Following the experiences of other countries that have warning systems for missing children, the first phase of the Pilot Project for the Early Warning System for Missing Children in North Macedonia from July 1, 2021 to December 31, has ended with the introduction of the early warning system’s website. In order to complete the early warning system for missing children and ensure its functioning and sustainability, CSO “Journalists for Human Rights” in cooperation and under the project management of “ECPAT Austria”, in the next 12 months, from 1 January 2023 until 31 December 2023 will implement a large number of activities that resulted from the activities carried out so far and from the meetings and discussions with social actors.
One of the main objectives in order to strengthen the early warning system for missing children is to build capacities for institutional representatives to effectively share information about children who have been absent from school for more than three days in order to increasingly eliminate the risk of children going missing. For this purpose, two trainings (two days each) will be held for institutional representatives (data protection officers in schools – 10 schools as a pilot example, representatives from the Ministry of the Interior, the Education Development Bureau, the Ministry of Health, social workers).
The two two-day trainings will be organized for up to 15 institutional representatives to acquire the ability to inter-institutional exchange of information and make it available on the Missing Children Early Warning System website. They will also learn about conflict resolution models, building trust and sustainable relationships between teachers and parents, trauma management and be sensitized to child trafficking.
Then, software will be developed to facilitate the exchange of information between relevant institutions in North Macedonia about children who are absent from school in order to reduce the risk of children going missing.
As the other main objective is to learn more about the living conditions of children in families with precarious and socio-economically threatened living situations, 5 case studies will be conducted to identify the causes of children’s disappearance and absences from school and prepare recommendations and they will be submitted to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs with a request for implementation.
Another goal is to strengthen the capacity and networking of journalists reporting on social issues and missing children, so 4 journalists from Austria will be invited on a study visit to prepare a story for their media and raise awareness of this issue in a wider sense and to contribute to further exchange of experiences on this issue.
The project will also work on stimulating socially responsible businesses and raising public awareness by sharing information about missing children. Finally, a closing conference will be held to present the institutionalized early warning system for missing children, as well as the case studies, strategy document and information exchange system to support the missing children warning website https:/ /najdime.org.mk/.