Every year on average, there are over 5,000 cases of missing children reported to law enforcement in Quebec. Runaways account for nearly 90% of all these cases and involve youth between the ages of 12-17. The reasons why youth run away are complex, but are generally associated with them attempting to gain some control over their lives.

The Missing Children’s Network is dedicating the entire month of November to raising awareness about the plight of runaway youth in our province and what families can do to protect their children.

Throughout the month, we will post a number of safety tips, as well as informative and educational resources on social media for parents and educators. As well, the organization will conduct safety workshops in dozens of schools throughout the province to sensitize students about the dangers of running away, and provide them with alternatives.

Open communication is key! One of the most important things parents can do to protect their child is to make their home a place of trust and support that fulfills their teen’s needs. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Find daily opportunities to talk with your children and listen attentively to what they have to say.
  • Encourage them to share any secrets that may leave them feeling uncomfortable or scared.
  • Help make your children more aware by explaining the dangers of sex trafficking and by challenging myths and misconceptions that glamorize commercial sex.
  • Have conversations with them about online safety and how traffickers use social networking sites and apps to mask, not only their appearance, but also their true intentions while recruiting new victims.

It is crucial that children feel that the significant adults in their lives accept them, care about them and would go out of their way to ensure that they are safe and well. Recent studies have shown that children with a healthy sense of self-esteem and positive self-image are less vulnerable to becoming victims of abduction, aggression or exploitation.

The Missing Children’s Network is a valuable resource to families and has published an array of safety documentation to help parents and guardians gain deeper insight on issues facing teens today and assist them in initiating difficult conversations with their children, particularly around sexual abuse and exploitation. Publications available for download include: Shine Brighter, for you and your child; Coming Back to Stay; Teen Runaways: Signs, Prevention and What to Do if They Run”, and “Sexual Exploitation of Teens – A Guidebook for Parents”.

If you have any questions or concerns, the Missing Children’s Network is here to help and can provide you with assistance and support. Please contact our offices at 514 843-4333 or toll-free 1 888 692-4676.