ANKARA – Anatolia News Agency
The number of children that went missing in Turkey in 2007 was 833, according to a report by the Prime Ministry's human rights department released yesterday.
The report said 7,183 children were reported missing last year, 6,350 of whom were found by the end of the year. The report also noted that according to police statistics the number of missing children was 1,446 nationwide. It said the discrepancy was due to the failure to properly define �missing children,� with the police department including children who had run away from Social Services and Children's Protection Department, or SHÇEK, shelters.
The report, which was produced as the result of a six-month study, said 18 percent of those who ran away did so for �adventure,� 17 percent to seek jobs, 15 percent to escape from violence within the family, 14 percent due to psychological abuse, 10 percent because of step-parents and 9 percent from violence directed at children.
Istanbul ranks first for the number of children still missing, with 253, followed by Balıkesir with 47, Bursa with 42, Ankara with 30 and Şanlıurfa with 29.
The report also shows that Ankara ranks at the top the in terms of number of missing child reports filed, with 1,006, followed by İzmir with 642, Bursa with 439, Eskişehir with 314 and Istanbul with 253. However, the number of children later found in Ankara was 976, while 627 were found in İzmir, 397 in Bursa and 303 in Eskişehir. But, according to the report, none of the 253 children who went missing in Istanbul in 2007 were found by the end of the year.
The report said families must act responsibly for the welfare of the children. It said children in moral and psychological depression need to be held, noting that public support was crucial in addition to assistance from the family and school.
The department said the media, the Prime Ministry and human rights associations had to cooperate on issues tied to children, noting that runaways should not be treated as heroes in the press.
The report suggested that police should be on alert about unattended children at bus and train stations. It also called for specific emphasis on children from families who have just moved to cities.
School administrators need to file complaints against the parents of children who do not attend their classes, the report argued, noting that photos of missing children could be published on the Web sites of provincial human rights bureaus.
The report also said the state of affairs in Turkey was better than in developed countries and called for campaigns to address violence within families and to reduce child labor.