PETALING JAYA - Shopping malls, airports, schools and other public places should have child protection mechanisms to curb the high number of missing children.
Association of Registered Child Care Providers Malaysia president P.H. Wong said while some shopping malls made announcements if children were lost or found in the premises, there were other measures which could be adopted.
"For example, some shopping malls overseas lock and monitor the exits of a complex once a child is reported missing," she said.
In the United States and Canada, many shopping malls, hospitals and museums apply Code Adam when a child is reported missing whereby employees lock and monitor all exterior access to the building and look for the child.
Wong, who is Childline Malaysia honorary steering committee member, said schools and childcare centres should also screen visitors.
"One main cause for children going missing is the lack of vigilance. I have seen parents leaving their children alone at coffee shops while they order food and children playing in the lifts by themselves.
"They could easily be kidnapped in such situations," she said.
The Star front-paged a report yesterday that 5,721 Malaysians were reported missing last year and only 54.7 per cent of them were later found. From January to Dec 23 this year, 4,998 people were reported missing but only 48 per cent of them were eventually found.
Bukit Aman D11 (sexual crimes, domestic violence and child abuse investigations division) principal assistant director Asst Comm Hamidah Yunus said most missing Malaysians (mainly between the ages of 13 and 17) were runaways driven by family problems and a craving for freedom.
Wong said Malaysia was placed at the Tier 2 Watch List for the fourth consecutive year in relation to human trafficking.
"Some kidnap children for ransom. But some also abduct children to sell their body parts or organs in the black market," she said.
Protect and Save the Children executive director P. Nagasayee Malathy urged parents to ensure the transportation used by their children to school was secure.
"Encourage your child to disclose their problems, especially when you come across any strangers communicating with them," she said.
RHB Banking Group, which runs a corporate social responsibility programme to find missing children, was the first bank in Malaysia to use its ATMs to display posters of the lost children since 2007.
"RHB has been involved in the cases of Tien Yee Wah, Nurin Jazlin Jazimin, Sharlinie Mohd Nashar, Muhammad Asmawi Jalaluddin, Nisha Chandramohan and Lee Xin Ru," it said, adding that the group successfully located a missing child from Sabah last year.