Online campaigns for stolen kids intensify after Jahnvi's return

Her reunion with family shows how Facebook and Twitter can help recover missing kids

Photos of the three-year-old Jahnvi Ahuja, requesting help from people to trace went viral on social media.

She had gone missing under mysterious circumstances from the India Gate lawns on September 28.

After she was reunited to her family last Sunday after weeks, the netizens claimed that the social media campaign launched on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp ensured her homecoming.

“The case of a missing child found through #SocialMedia shows the power and vitality of this social medium,” a business magnet on Twitter says.

Inspired by this lost-and-found story, parents of missing children across the country are uploading pictures of their kids on social media.

A resident of Noida, Alok Singh, has recently uploaded picture of his one-year-old son Abhay who went missing more than two weeks ago. Abhay’s photograph on Facebook received over 1,000 shares within two days of posting. His smiling image, like Jahnvi’s, carries his name, father’s name and contact details.

“The parents are making an appeal to their friends and relatives to circulate the pictures further,” says a senior police officer, while adding that social media with its massive reach can bring tip-offs on whereabouts of missing children. 

But hopes are wearing as time goes by.

“No phone calls are coming. We have started to lose hope. He is very small and can only utter mama and papa,” the mother of one-year-old, Priyanka Singh, says.

According to Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan, on an average, 18 children go missing every day and four of them are never traced.
In Delhi, child right organisations say, almost 6,500 children  children disappeared in Delhi in 2013.

The national figure stands at staggering 96,000 disappearances every year. Many of these children end up as cheap labours, in brothels or other exploitative situations.
Use of technology

Whenever a case of missing child is registered, Delhi police says, the details are shared on an intranet network called Zonal Integrated Police Network – which is shared by six states – Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttrakhand.
The intranet network in turn sends out live feeds to the national web portal Track Child, launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development portal in 2012.   

Police registers a case of kidnapping against unidentified person whenever a child goes missing beyond a period of 24 hours. After which pamphlets of the missing children finds its way to all local police stations, bus intersections, hospital and markets.

Social media tools, however, are not used by police to circulate the pictures and details of missing kids.

Thanks to the success story of Jhanvi, social media users are still retweeting and sharing on Facebook the details of missing children, providing hope to many affected families.
Boost for NGOs. Some NGOs, boosted by the support, have started online campaigns to reunite parents with children.

“We are lucky, that the Bring Back Jahnvi went successful with all your efforts and prayers…we got the Jhanvi Back… What about other kids?” Bring Back Angels, a Facebook page run by a Chandigarh-based non-profit Salaam Zindagi Charitable Trust, says.
Rakesh Senger, national secretary of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, claims Jhanvi’s success story elicited a strong social response.

“Police has said they will start using social media to trace children. My only suggestion is that it should not be turned into a mere formality. It has to be done in a planned way,” he says.

Jahnvi’s success story has reaffirmed their faith in the social media, Senger says, while adding that his organisation has been posting video appeals made by parents of missing children.

Some concerned citizens are even discussing child safety tips online.
One of the most provocative one reads: “Take a picture of your child with your cell phone while attending large public events.”

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