THE MISSING CHILDREN SOCIETY OF CANADA
By Elvin Klassen
By Elvin Klassen
1132 words – MR
Preventing abductions and reuniting families
by Elvin Klassen
More than 45,000 children were reported missing in Canada in 2011, an average of one child every 11 minutes.
When a child first goes missing, police, media and the community rally together to help the terrified and anxious family search but as time goes by, that involvement inevitably decreases. It is for these families that the Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC) was established in 1986.
MCSC reunites missing children with their families through professional investigations, public awareness and family support programs. It’s the only non-profit organization in North America that employs an in-house team of former police detectives. They work closely with law enforcement while conducting frontline, hands-on investigations and searches. MCSC receives, on average, two to three requests a day for assistance. It closes, on average, three cases per week.
Ted Davis began working with the society 17 years ago after retiring from the Calgary Police Service. Davis says he loves to help kids.
“There are a variety of aspects of working with the society. I enjoy the hunt and the chase. There is a real tangible result because we are working with the most vulnerable in society… the children. It is fun to go to work.”
Davis works closely with investigator Bob Mosley. Their experience as officers gives them contacts and good rapport with police agencies across Canada and around the world. They each carry 22 cases and another 40 tips-only files.
Their passion for kids is evident in the stories that they share, like the Ghanaian/Jamaican boy who was abducted when he was two years old. His mother has spent the last 25 years looking for him. A tip came to the RCMP of a boy in Ghana who said he had been abducted as a child but a DNA test showed he wasn’t the child they were looking for. The mother was heartbroken and the search continues.
“We do not quit,” says Davis. “I never quit. We will find them. I do not give up on any case. Some cases just grab you and get a hold of you. In some cases it only takes a phone call to find the child. At other times it will take years.”
Another child went missing several years ago in Hawaii. Davis received a tip that she was in Portland. He did a lengthy, detailed search of Oregon’s largest city but was unsuccessful. Two years later another tip reported that the family had moved to Portland, Maine. Today a Google search would have quickly shown that there is more than one Portland. Two weeks later, the girl was back with her family.
West Jet provides free service to investigators as part of its community care projects. “It is so exciting to see this level of engagement where we can actively participate in reuniting a child with the family,” wrote CEO/President Gregg Saretsky. MCSC workers can board the next scheduled flight to an investigation scene.
Without West Jet’s participation, “we could not operate,” says MCSC Executive Director Amanda Pick. “We receive no government funding. As a not for profit organization we operate with the dollars that are raised. The more money that comes in, the more investigators can be hired…
“I have two kids. The idea that they would be missing or taken from me helps me understand other families so much more.”
Davis worked on a parental abduction of a Jamaican child. The mother went with a man from Houston, Texas. Davis had recently chatted with a Houston police officer at a Toronto conference and asked him to check for any signs of the child at a specific address. The officer found him and apprehended the mother, who was in the US illegally, and called Davis to ask what to do with the child. He cared for him till the father arrived from Jamaica to take him home.
In another case, a couple emigrated to Canada but the mother returned to Romania with a child. The father followed but was not permitted access. A court order for the child has been processed but since there is no money to pay costs, two years have gone by without any success. There is no way that Davis can speed the process.
Police are busy with local cases, limiting their ability to dedicate officers to long term files. Davis says they always inform agencies of the information MCSC has, adding the local force often calls for assistance, leading to excellent rapport.
Davis “brings 40 years’ experience when he works on our cases of missing and abducted children,” notes Pick. “He has contacts worldwide and they are instrumental in allowing him to successfully locate children and bring them home to their searching families. I am constantly at awe at his abilities and grateful each and every day that he is working on behalf of our families.”
Davis says his family is important to him “and I expect everyone to be the same but unfortunately that is not the case.”
Time and anonymity are needed for a child to go missing. By removing those two key elements from the equation, MCSC brings missing children home faster. With technology, it can quickly spread information and engage more Canadians volunteers, who are critical to helping recover missing children, in the search. By uniting a country in the search, MCSC also prevents abductions from occurring – the more eyes on communities, the less likely a child will be taken.
If a child goes missing, MCSC sends pertinent, time sensitive information to Canadians through three communication methods:
Most Valuable Project harnesses the power of social media.
CodeSearch uses geotargeted alerts to engage corporate partners and their employees. They have committed to providing resources such as ATVs, helicopters and scuba equipment.
Marketwire pushes missing child alerts to Canadian media outlet in the country, reaching millions of people within a three-hour window.
MCSC believes no family should have to deal alone with a missing child. Its programs provide both professional counseling and support from families who have previously dealt with the trauma of a missing child.
The MCSC family and peer support program is run by an experienced professional counselor who has previously built similar programs and has worked with the Canadian Mental Health Association. From one-on-one sessions to speaker series with industry professionals, the program is built for parents, grandparents, siblings or extended family experiencing emotional distress over a missing child.
Pick welcomes volunteers. MCSC is funded entirely by donations and provides its services at no cost to families. She urges interested active and retired police officers and members of the public to contact her. Financial and corporate donations are also welcome.
Call 403-291-0705, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mcsc.ca to volunteer or for more information.