Today marks the launch of 'Help Find My Child', a new type of charity working with families to locate missing children worldwide. Specialising in combining the latest technologies with the power of online communities, such as Facebook and Twitter, this small charity aims to make a big impact in the global search for missing children.
Professionals, in the fields of technology and child protection, have welcomed this new service: Mark Williams-Thomas a leading child protection expert and criminologist writes:
Social Media sites are an integral part of our lives and as such it is vital that we use them to their full advantage. I therefore fully support Help Find My Child and the excellent work they are doing in using the Internet and social networking sites to reach out to locate missing children.
It was while following the news online of the high profiled and heart-breaking case of Madeleine McCann that the team became aware of thousands of other missing child cases, and the lack of support available to families left behind.
Kerry Guy, co-founder of Help Find My Child, says, “Can you imagine the trauma of having one of your children missing? It's perhaps the worst nightmare any parent can endure. It was just unacceptable to us that families were burdened with trying to master technology so their voices would be heard at the same time.”
As the fastest growing communication tool, the internet offers the perfect platform to raise awareness and retrieve information rapidly for our missing children. Help Find My Child offers a dedicated and personal service to families who require a range of online technical support when searching for a missing or exploited child.
Kevin Gosden Father of Missing Teen Andrew Gosden writes: “Help Find My Child has enabled me to publicise Andrew’s missing status to targeted audiences in a way that is not possible through newspapers, radio and television exposure. They have been such a supportive group to me on a personal and emotional level too. During some of the most painful times, this group has given me the will to go on and to continue searching for my son
If there is a place online where lots of people gather, then Help Find My Child wants to have a presence there too, where it can actively engage with communities in order to increase visibility for cases. They have already built up thousands of followers across their network of sites. Become part of the YouTube’s nonprofit programme and have a cyber-office in the 3D world Second life.
Mirna Bard an internet marketing expert in the USA recently blogged, “Social media has been used for many things, from dating to business promotion, but now it can help save lives as well. Help Find My Child has set up a system to help parents of missing children get the necessary information out fast on multiple networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and MySpace, among others
Once a profile is added to its database the details appear on many other websites simultaneously, with live updates and chronicle of events to keep the public’s interest. Volunteers can then target specific online communities based on details relevant to that particular child, such as their geographical location, encouraging the public to contact police with any information they may have.
“Time is crucial when a child goes missing; statistics tell us that those initial hours are vital. Factual information needs to be circulated as quickly as possible. We aim to provide the means to do that online for police and family members alike as many experts believe exposure maximises the chances of a child being located and recovered safely. Explains Kerry
Working in this way Help Find My Child is able to maintain a high profile for officially listed missing children and when requested work in tandem with their families, police and other other organisations.
To find out more about the charity visit http://www.helpfindmychild.net
watch the launch video on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZfjD_wzN1E
or follow them on twitter @helpfindmychild