A Note of Thanks

Dear Readers,

Welcome to MfMC official blog.

We aim to proactively and continuously promote and educate the issue of children's safety to the public. Children are the future of our nation and they are "vulnerable'. They rely on adults to protect them from any form of harm including without limitation to kidnapping.

Hence, it is our hope that this little effort will be able to instill the continuous sense of safety for children among the public.

Let's do this together. Help us to help others in creating the awareness. Spread the message to others. Prevention is better than cure.

Together we make a difference.

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Monday, 17 June 2013

When a Child Goes Missing...The Victim, The Culprit and the Criminal

This story including the name mentioned therein are merely fictitious and any similarity to anyone or to any incident is purely a coincidence.

Asmah, a mother of 2 small kids, Amin aged 5 and Azrul aged 2 was at the kitchen preparing for family lunch. It is the family routine to have lunch together, as Asmah's husband, Azman will come back home for lunch. It was 11:30am and suddenly Asmah reaslised that the salt and sugar have finished. As she needs to get the lunch ready by the time Azman reaches home, she knew that she could not leave the kitchen, as Azrul was sleeping. The only alternative that she had was to ask his eldest son, Amin to go to the nearby sundry shop to buy sugar and salt. She was thinking that it was purely ok for Amin to go to the shop by himself as the shop was just about 100m away from her house and the shop owner knows Amin. Without further thinking, she asked Amin to walk to the shop and in return, she allowed Amin to buy ice cream for himself.

With the money in hand, Amin happily walked to the shop. As he reached the shop, he told the shop owner that he wanted to buy salt and sugar...not forgetting his ice cream. As the transaction completed, Amin walked back to his house while enjoying his ice cream.

The time was 11:50am and Asmah was anxiously waiting for Amin to be home with the sugar and salt. She was thinking of Azman reaches home while the lunch was not ready. While looking at the wall clock, she was thinking where was Amin? Where did he go? In her mind, Amin must have gone to the playground or the neighbour's house instead of coming back home. Thinking of that she was mad. In her mind, she was imagining scolding Amin for loitering around.

The time was 12.15pm and Azman reached home. It was a routine for Amin, the moment he heard the sound of Azman's motorcycle engine, to run towards the door and shouted "Ayah!" to welcome his daddy home. Azman has always waited and enjoyed that moment. Watching Amin run towards him means all the office problem goes away just like that. On that day, Azman was expecting that normal routine. However, as he walked into the house, there was no Amin running towards him. He thought that Amin might be sleeping. He went to the kitchen and saw Asmah was still preparing the lunch. He came from behind and hugged his wife while whispering to her "I love you". He then kissed her on her cheek and forehead. He went to the room but only saw Azrul sleeping. He did not see Amin. He went to the kitchen and asked Asmah about Amin. With the upset voice, Asmah told him about Amin has not come back from the nearby shop. It had been 45 minutes since Amin left home to go to the shop.

Sensing something was not right, Azman quickly turned on his motorbike engine and went to the shop. The shop owner told him that Amin left his shop about 30 min ago. That made Azman really worries about Amin. Where was Amin? Where did he go? What happened to him? Did he lost his way home? Was he kidnapped? All these questions started to play in his mind.

At home, Asmah was no longer upset with Amin. She too, sensing something is not right when Azman did not come back from the shop. She started to worry about Amin's safety. The sense of regret came to visit her. She told herself, I should not have asked Amin to go to the shop. While she was busy thinking about Amin, Azrul woke up. He went to Asmah and asked Asmah to hug him. Asmah did that as part of their routine. All of a sudden, Azrul asked his mother about his brother, Amin. Asmah did not know what and how to answer as she was thinking and praying for Amin's safety.

To cut the story short, Amin had never made it home since he left home to go to the shop that day. The distance between the house and the shop was merely 100m away but something would have happened within that 100m range. When Azman went to work that morning, Amin was still sleeping. He kissed Amin and Azrul before he left home. He could not imagine that it was the last time he got to kiss his son, Amin. Asmah had never thought that asking Amin to go to the shop by himself could result in Amin went missing. She could not imagine that was the last time she saw Amin. 

What had happened to Amin was he was abducted, sold to the syndicate of human trafficking, transported to other country to beg. That would not be all. Amin was then amputated on certain parts of his limbs.
Certainly and obviously, Amin was the victim in this case. He was twice the victim. Victim to his mother who did not care enough on his safety and victim to the child predator a.k.a. the criminal who was taking advantage on the helpless poor little boy.

Every time a child goes missing, people talk about the victim and the criminal, be it the abductor, the rapist, the molester, etc. Often, we tend to forget about the culprit, in the above case, it was Asmah, Amin's mother. It was because people will symphatise with Asmah (and her family), though she was the culprit. She was the only reason why Amin went missing. Should she be more careful in taking care of her kids' safety, Amin could have still be with the family. Unfortunately, as adult, lots of us think of what comfort us than the safety of the children. 

It is troublesome to bring the kids to the shop, hence leaving them in the car. 
It is troublesome to go to the shop, hence asking small kids to go, all by themselves.
It is troublesome to accompany kids to the playground, hence asking them to go on their own.
People know that all the above pose risk to the children and expose them to danger, but sad enough, people still do that hoping that nothing will happen.

Section 33 of the Child Act 2001 provides: -

Any person who, being a parent or a guardian or a person for the time being having the care of a child, leaves that child-
(a) without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child;
(b) for a period which is unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances; or
(c) under conditions which are unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances,
commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.
The above clearly imposes duty of care of a guardian towards a child. I am not sure if this Section 33 has ever been used to charge careless guardian in court. Based on my reading in the newspaper every time a child goes missing, the focus has always been to help find the child and who is the responsible party i.e. the criminal. Often we forget about the real culprit.
To solve an issue, we need to always look at the root cause of it. The root cause is always the careless and negligent guardian. Sad to say, we always forget to look at the root cause, hence allowing the next case to happen.

We at Mission for Missing Children is making effort to continuously creating and increase the awareness level among the society on the importance of the safety of our children. We do hope that the authority will play more pro-active role in this matter. 

Child predators strike at the time and in the manner we least expect. Hence, when we thought that it is ok, think twice as chances are, it may not be ok.

Folks, let us be safe than sorry.