It tugs at the heartstrings when a post appear about a child described as missing. These children look so cute and obviously in no position to look after themselves. People who view these posts want nothing more than the child to be found and returned to the safe environment of their parents are guardians.
It is a natural reaction when seeing such a post to share it and ask Facebook friends to share it also in the hopes of increasing the chances the child will be found. But like many things found on the Internet, these missing children's posts may not be what they seem.
The Kindersley detachment of the RCMP posted a warning
on their Facebook page Monday. The Mounties point out many of these children are not in fact “missing” and locating them may put them in harm’s way. The life of the child as well as that of a parent or caregiver may be in danger if their location is revealed by Facebook users.
According to the RCMP
, these posts could be made by an estranged parent. It could be a parent who is the subject of a court order not to have any contact with the child. Or it could be the custodial parent and the child are in hiding out of fear of the other parent. The estranged parent does not know where the child and the other parent are so they create a missing child post in the hopes someone will lead them to their location. Either way, the child may be in danger.
The RCMP suggests when seeing a post about a missing child, the source of that post should be examined. If it did not come from a legitimate police department or from a reliable media source indicating a police department is actively looking for the child, the child is likely not missing.
reports the RCMP statement comes at the same time Facebook has come under fire for not doing enough to protect children. It was reported Facebook did not act quickly enough to remove sexualized images of children reported to the company.
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