Where are all our missing children?

Why do we have so many missing children in Europe? Where are they all? Who is searching for them?

Up until the last few days, the only missing child that anyone really knew of was Madeleine McCann.

Yet now, according to the Greek charity looking after Maria, the four-year-old at the centre of a European search to find her parents after she was found with a Roma family in Greece, they have been inundated with hundreds of calls and e-mails from desperate parents across Europe and the US convinced that four-year-old Maria could be their child.

Who are these missing children? How do their parents manage to keep their lives together with such a huge heartbreaking gap in their lives, and what resources and support do they have to look for their missing loved one?

I have regularly written about missing children since the disappearance of Madeleine, and they are among my most popular posts. This shows that someone, somewhere wants to know about them, that they are not forgotten.

The most popular posts being read on my blog today are about Sicilian girl Denise Pipitone who was snatched outside her home when she was four in 2004; Sarah Molales Hernandez,  who went missing in 2006 in Las Palmas aged 14 after going to meet a friend at a shopping centre and Ylenia Carrisi, who vanished in 1994 aged 24 in New Orlean, a glamorous former hostess of the Italian version of Wheel of Fortune. There are 145 comments with this post, many of them mentioning sightings and speculating about her fate.

While hoping there will  be helpful leads about Madeleine’s disappearance resulting from last week’s Crimewatch appeal, what this fantastic programme has done is highlight the problem of other missing children in Europe following the discovery of Maria. Other missing children get little, if any, publicity. And it is  fantastic that the search for Ben Needham’s could now be revived too following his disappearance in Greece as a toddler.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this appeal led to his discovery?

What this shows is that there is a desperate need for regular Crimewatch appeals about missing children, and I believe they should be widely broadcast throughout Europe featuring appeals for children missing throughout Europe, and repeated so they are not forgotten. Sadly, there is no shortage of missing children for them to include; I met many British families with missing loved ones on this march for missing people in 2008. These missing people should not be forgotten about by our politicians and police. I wonder how many of these families have had news about their missing loved ones since this march. My guess is that they are all still searching and waiting.

In memory of those who are still missing.