If we look back at the work of the European number for missing children in Serbia, there were several perceived challenges, of which the greatest were:
Children's safety as a precondition for further measures to yield results. The issue of children's safety is essential, both preventively and reactively. It is necessary to work on information and education of all those who have contact with children – teachers and school staff, centers for social work, various youth organizations, and especially with representatives of the police and prosecutor's office.
Unavailability and/or insufficient of various specialized services for children, especially in health care and psychological support.
From March 2012 to December 31, 2022, 4,413 calls were made, 143 children (83 girls and 60 boys). Reasons for disappearance were: running away from home or institutions 63 (45%), unaccompanied migrant children 25 (17%), parental abduction 26 (18%), abduction by a third party 4 (3%), and lost, injured or ones who have disappeared under unknown circumstances 25 (17%).
Providing help and support through Hotline 116000 during the previous ten years and noting challenges and shortcomings in the system of social and legal protection, our recommendations for the upcoming period are to:
Make a timely assessment of threats and dangers to children and react in order to protect them. Also, in any case, after finding the child, conduct an interview to assess the risk of re-disappearance. Timely recognition of risks and challenges, involving parents and children in overcoming them in everyday life, can represent a key preventive and supporting factor.
In each individual case, after finding a child, draw up an individual plan for support and protection and include different systems. Developing procedures and practices that will facilitate access to various services for missing children, children at risk and their parents or guardians should be one of the good practices of the system. At the same time, it is necessary that the entire treatment of children and parents/guardians in the system of social and legal protection is guided by the same working principles and directed towards protecting the best interests of the child.
Develop practices and services aimed at empowering the child and strengthening parental capacities.
An individual approach to each child, as well as participation during all phases of work and provision of the necessary services, is a way to target and meet the needs of the children. Such an approach will have a positive effect on their life and further development.
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