Oh, those summers
For schoolchildren, summer means vacation, long before which the working city parents start thinking where to settle their offspring so he does not wander around dusty city, but gets rest and recovers health. Those who do not have 'village' send children to summer camps or children resorts. Those who have 'village' relatives do not have to think twice about 'summer residence' for their children. What else do you want? There is clean air, river, new milk, berries from the bush and a home zoo with goats, cows, chickens and rabbits. There is nice food, plenty toys and even Internet. One has to do nothing but enjoy. However, children have their own views and plans. ForUm staff has learnt about it firsthand.
How it happened
The working day was almost over. Suddenly, a call came from home with the most terrifying beginning of the conversation: "Please, just don't worry..." Two girls, 13 and 10, who have never gone to a neighboring district of the city without adults, suddenly decided to travel. Having made a suitcase, they climbed out through a window and left.
Nobody worried, of course. Everyone was terrified, instead. To cut the long story short, it turned out that visiting one of the grandmas the girls decided to make a surprise to another one and to come to her unexpected. They thought it was easy to go from a village in Ivano-Frankivsk region to a town of Lviv region, near the border with Poland. Besides, at this period, the town hosts a traditional festival and the girls decided it would be fun.
Well, surprise was a success. The whole family and police of both regions were looking for the runaways. Suspecting nothing, the girls changed five buses, somehow managed to escape police patrols, safely arrived to the place and were very surprised why everyone was in tears taking heart pills. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending. Still, why it happened and whose fault it was requires an investigation.
Who runs away and why?
According to the statistic data of psychologists and law enforcements, not only children from troubled families run away. They make only 30%. The rest 70% of runaways are adventurers, victims of parents' negligence or victims of extreme control and severity.
The majority of runaways are children of 10-15 years old. Psychologists divide runaways into four principal groups: explorers, seekers of pleasant company, blackmailers, escapees from danger or troubles.
Explorers are children looking for adventures and independence. They usually leave a note for their parents and then return home on their own. Seekers of pleasant company usually run away because of the prohibition to date or demands to come home early.
A runaway can be used as a revenge method to punish parents for not doing something the children wanted them to. If parents control their children too much or abuse them, children run away from problems and usually do not come back at will, only by force.
As ForUm learned from the Interior Ministry department, since the year beginning the law enforcement bodies have received 4.1 thousand reports on missing children. 3.5 thousand (86%) were found and brought home within 24 hours. "In summer period the rate of missing children increases almost threefold," acting spokesman of the Interior Ministry department Ivan Babayev says.
"Summer is a trigger," director of the International humanitarian center "Rozrada" Valentyna Bondarovska explains. "It's a vacation time and children do not have strict regime, as during school studies. Consequently, there is no control. The matter concerns not only children staying at home with working parents, but also those who went to grandparents in a village or to a summer camp.
"I grew up in a loving family. But at the age of 7-12 I was travelling a lot. In summer my mom was sending me in a summer camp. I used to have a breakfast and then go to the forest alone. It was dangerous. There were old German bunkers and I liked to crawl inside. I used to catch venomous snakes and study the nature. My mom still does not know about my adventures," Bondarovska told ForUm.
According to psychologists, the cognition syndrome is very strong among active children: such children cannot stay still and always find some activities, sometimes not the safe ones. Parents must teach safety to children. A child must know how to call an emergency number, how to distinguish venomous snakes and spiders and what to do in case of a bite. A child must be taught where he can go and what places are better to avoid.
"However, the control must be nonintrusive and discreet. A child needs certain freedom, otherwise the development process will be not right. Parental blackmailing like "if you do not do this, I will not buy you that..." will only push a child to run away," Bondarovska says.
To find a child you need to...
Psychologists Valentyna Bondarovska says that if a child has run away the family must set a collective mind and find out where the child can be. Family members should sit down and recall what they know about the child, about his favorite places or his plans. First of all, the family should establish whether the child is gone for an adventure or just lost and does not know where to go.
In his turn, the representative of the Interior Ministry department Babayev explains that the search must start as soon as possible. The reports on missing children are the priority and the search starts immediately. The research schedule has two stages. The first stage is to collect information about the child, his associates and places of possible stay (relatives, school, friends). Within the first 24 hours, the police officers check the established places and question all the associates. At the same time, police officers inspect hospitals and morgue reports on unidentified persons and give an alert announcement in mass media.
If the child is not found within the first 24 hours, the second stage of the search starts - the child is officially announced missing. The missing report with a child's photo is placed in all specialized searching sites and social networks, as well as mass media and transport.
If the child is found or detained, he is placed in the nearest shelter for children, hospital or police department or delivered to the parents or other family representatives.
Punishment for running away
According to the police reports, 99.5% of missing children are being found and sent home, The law enforcement officials ask the families to be more attentive to their children and think not about punishment or home arrest, but about prevention of repeated escape. "If a child receives sufficient attention and care he won't even thing about running away," Babayev says.
Psychologists Valentyna Bondarovska also agrees that punishment is not the best method of education. "When a child is found, parents should calm him down, feed and let him sleep. The child should be told he is loved and that everybody worried about him. If parents apply serious punishment or strengthen the control, there is a big chance the child will run away again. As preventive measures, keep your child busy. Parents should learn the passions of their offsprings. You cannot kill the desire for adventures, but you can control it. For example, use summer and nature to find new activities for your children, like sketching animals and plants or study languages.
"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years," Mark Twain once wrote. Adults should remember they used to be children once, living in a different world - a world alien to adults.
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