The numbers are outright terrifying. Every day in Quebec, 15 children are reported missing. And with every report, the Missing Children’s Network is there to support the parents and alert the public.
One of the Network’s initiatives is the naming of May 25 as National Missing Children’s Day. According to the Missing Children’s Network’s press release, today is “a day that serves as an annual reminder to the country to renew its efforts in reuniting missing children with their families, honor those who are still missing and make child safety a top priority.”
Pina Arcamone has been the Network’s Director General since 2000. She has been involved with the organization for over 20 years.
“My passion has always been children and education,” she admits.
And that is what the Missing Children’s Network does. The organization works with community groups, law enforcement, schools and parents to create educational programs aimed at teaching children safety and self-esteem.
“We give parents and educators concrete examples of how to start the conversation with the kids. We want to make safety education part of everyday life. It’s about being safe all the time,” Arcamone explains.
“A missing child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Talking about safety is a preoccupation for all parents.”
“I never remember growing up and thinking that somebody was going to hurt me. Neighborhoods have changed. We used to have more stay-at-home moms, neighbors who knew one another. We had a non-formal neighborhood watch without realizing it. That is not the case anymore,” she continues.
The Missing Children’s Network is constantly adapting its services to best serve the public. Amber Alerts are now published on social media platforms. The Network has an active presence on Facebook and Twitter. Their website was recently updated to include more information on prevention education.
“We made the Amber Alert part of the social psyche. We created a responsive community and now our goal is to reinforce it,” Arcamone explains.
The organization’s accomplishments are extraordinary, considering that the Network runs with a staff of eight.
“We’re very lucky because our 200 volunteers help us out. They are our backbone,” Arcamone comments.
Arcamone admits that she and her staff need to personally cope with the heartbreaking cases they deal with on a daily basis.
“I’m spiritual. It’s very important. I pray. I spend time with my family,” she explains.
“The staff. We openly share what we just lived, how we’re feeling. I think we remind one another of what we’ve done. And that sometimes we’ve done our best and it wasn’t enough, but we did all we could,” she continues.
“We are here for the parents, for educators, for the kids. All our programs are free of charge. Never wait to ask for help. It’s better to ask for help then have your child become the next statistic. This is a safe place for parents and for kids.”