Late yesterday, on the eve of International Missing Children’s Day, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection is launched a new service called MissingKidsALERT and released preliminary results from first-of-its kind research into Canada’s abducted and murdered children. An initiative of MissingKids.ca, MissingKidsALERT is a new public notification service that allows Canadians to sign up to receive geographically targeted alerts through a variety of electronic platforms when a child in their community goes missing.
“Our government takes the safety of our citizens very seriously, particularly the most vulnerable members of our society – our children,” said the Hon. Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. “We commend the work done by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to find missing children, support their families and contribute to research on missing and sexually exploited children.”
The MissingKidsALERT service compliments existing provincial Amber Alert systems, but uses an individualized risk assessment to include more missing children cases. This service allows for public alerts to be sent out that might not qualify under existing Amber Alert criteria, but would still benefit from a heightened and rapid response from the public.
“When a child goes missing, every second counts,” says Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “The MissingKidsALERT service is about creating a network of Canadians in every region of the country who will be the eyes and ears of police and who will be engaged in the search for our missing children. When more people know, more people are looking – and that gives us the best chance of bringing a missing child home quickly and safely.”
“I encourage all families across Canada to sign-up to receive notifications through the Canadian Centre’s MissingKidsALERT service. We need to be ready the next time a child goes missing. While we cannot change our tragedy, it is our hope that this critical service will prevent another family from going through what we experienced with Kimberly’s abduction and murder,” says Jo-Anne Landolt, aunt of Kimberly Proctor from Langford, BC, a Grade 12 student who was abducted and murdered in March 2010.
The Canadian Centre’s preliminary findings from its new research study consists of an initial scan of 82 Canadian child abduction and murder cases spanning from 1961 to present day. Cases being examined involve stranger abductions (meaning the child victim was abducted by someone who was not a family member) and child victims aged 16 years and younger. In conducting research into these cases, the organization hopes to gain a better understanding of such crimes, and in turn, provide recommendations on what can be done to help prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.
Preliminary numbers show that an overwhelming number of child victims in these types of cases are female (82%) and that 62% of the child victims were 12 years of age and under. 94% of offenders were male – and of the very few female offenders identified in the cases, most did not work alone, but worked with a male accomplice.
In order to get a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding these types of offences, a closer analysis of 23 out of the 82 cases was conducted. Preliminary findings include:
- In 83% of cases, the offender’s motivation for abducting a child was sexual or presumed sexual.
- In 65% of cases there was no known prior contact between the offender and the child victim.
- In 43% of cases, the offender lived in the same apartment block or neighbourhood as the child victim.
- In 57% of cases the offender lured the child victim (e.g. offering gifts) and in 30% of cases children were taken by force.
- In a large proportion of cases (78%), child victims were abducted from locations where they could be presumed to be safe (e.g. the street or play areas near the home).
- In 57% of cases the child victim was chosen at random. In 19% of cases the offender chose a specific child victim.
“The research is showing us exactly how unpredictable and dangerous these offenders are. They take advantage of situations where children are busy doing childlike things and time is of the utmost importance. We need as many Canadians as possible involved in the search. I encourage all Canadians to visit MissingKidsALERT.ca today to sign up to receive notifications,” says McDonald.
The Abducted and Murdered Children in Canada final report is expected to be released in 2013. It will include a series of recommendations to assist policy makers and other stakeholders who are working to reduce the incidence of missing and exploited children. Based on the Canadian Centre’s findings, a number of educational and public awareness materials addressing the issue of increasing the personal safety of children will also be created and made available to parents and the general public.