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New hotline for missing children launched

Runaway teenagers and those thinking of fleeing home will be given support on a new hotline for missing children.

The parents, siblings or carers of missing children can also get advice and guidance on the 116000 number, which will be run by the ISPCC.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the service will provide an important support for children missing from home and for their families.

"We must acknowledge that for those children who are missing and even for those who may be considered missing only for one day, there is a family member or significant other who is worried, frightened and distressed and that there is a child out there feeling scared and alone because they are either in danger or have left their home," she said.

"The 116000 hotline will help provide the emotional support and information needed during such a difficult time."

Cases can include a child running away, parental or criminal abduction, asylum children vanishing, or a child getting lost.

GARDAI

The Irish number will be financially supported by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the EU.

But parents are warned that initial calls should still be made to gardai who, in emergency cases, can trigger its Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alert.

ISPCC chief executive Ashley Balbirnie said a child going missing is a parent's worst nightmare.

"The ISPCC is delighted that we are finally able to provide support to children and families on a 24-hour basis," he added.

"The ISPCC has extensive experience providing listening services to children – we are in our 25th year of Childline – so we feel that running this hotline is something that we are well placed to do."

hnews@herald.ie


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