National Missing Persons Week 2008 runs from Sunday, August 3, to Saturday, August 9, and will focus on young people as a significant group at risk of going missing. In the Richmond Area Command, 17 people, 10 of them female, as listed as missing.

The theme this year is ‘When communication goes missing, so do our youth. Don’t close the door to communication’.
 
NSW Police said today that the latest research revealed that young people aged under 18 years accounted for more than two-thirds of all missing persons reports.

“About 20,000 people under the age of 18 are reported missing each year and research indicates they are predominantly female aged between 13-17 years, so this year’s campaign aims to focus on this group, as well as increase awareness of the triggers, such as communication, that play a role in why young people go missing,” police said.

Police said the reasons for young people to go missing and many and varied and can include:

  • Mental illness (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia)
  • Suicide
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Rebellion
  • Escape from domestic violence/family conflict or dysfunctional relationships
  • Child abuse/neglect
  • Escape from school pressures, bullying
  • Puberty/ peer pressure
  • Abduction
  • Homicide.

The Australian Federal Police National Missing Persons Co-ordination Centre (NMPCC) had specifically targeted young people during 2008 through focused activities.

In April the AFP supported National Youth Week by directly engaging with thousands of young Australians through online polls and at the Video Hits Live concert in Sydney asking them to ‘talk before you walk’.

Social networking sites have also been targeted with videos being uploaded on YouTube extending the reach to an international audience, and through the development of a missing persons MySpace profile.

The NMPCC website has also undergone a significant redevelopment to further increase awareness and engage young people. The website, missingpersons.gov.au will go live on the eve of National Missing Persons Week.

More than 35,000 people in Australia are reported missing each year – one every 15 minutes.

“Richmond Local Area Command has 17 persons on their missing persons list, with 10 of them being female,” Richmond Area Command spokesman Senior Constable Michael Hogan said.

“Police define a missing person as anyone who is reported missing to police, whose whereabouts is unknown, and where there are fears for the safety or welfare of that person.
 
“More than 95 per cent of people reported missing in Australia are located within a short period of time, but some 1600 people still remain missing more than six months after they disappeared.”

If you think you have information on a missing person, or are interested in learning more about missing persons and the agencies which help them, visit www.missingpersons.gov.au or free call 1800 000 634.

Visit the AFP MySpace site at www.myspace.com/missingpersons