BEIJING, China - An online campaign to publish photos of child beggars is assisting authorities to crack down on gangs that kidnap children and to help reunite kidnapped children with their families.
The Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday that the public can dial 110, a police hotline, if they suspect children are being organized or forced to beg on the streets.
"Addressing child trafficking and organized begging by minors needs the joint efforts of all sectors of society," said Chen Shiqu, head of the anti-trafficking office under the ministry.
The public have played a positive role in providing clues, rescuing minors and offering social assistance, he added.
The ministry's move follows an online campaign, which was launched by netizens on micro blogs on Jan 25.
Yu Jianrong, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the initiator of the campaign, called on netizens to take snapshots of children they see begging in the street and of other children suspected of being abducted, and then post the photos on micro blogs in the hope that family members will see them.
By Thursday the campaign had succeeded in helping six abducted children be reunited with their families.
Chen said once police receive a report from the public they will rush to the scene and investigate the case. Minors whose blood relationship and identity cannot be determined, or those suspected of being abducted, will be taken by police.
Parents or relatives who use children for begging will be informed of relevant laws and could face punishment.
In addition, the police will take blood samples of minors whose identities are unclear and their DNA records will be included in the national anti-trafficking DNA database, according to Chen.
Since April 2009, when the ministry launched a special campaign to combat trafficking of women and children, 5,900 criminal cases involving trafficking children have been uncovered, with 9,300 abducted children rescued by police, according to statistics released by the ministry.
Among the children handled by police, the majority are those taken by parents or relatives, or tricked by others into begging.
Those abducted and forced to beg in the streets are in the minority, Chen said.
Many local authorities have responded positively and taken measures to intensify anti-trafficking efforts.
In East China's Zhejiang province, an anti-abduction organization led by the local police and joined by 31 government authorities was set up to curb trafficking in women and children.
In Qingdao city of East China's Shandong province, local police initiated a campaign on Thursday to crack down on trafficking or manipulating minors to beg in the street.
"The salvation of trafficked children through micro blogs is a new and helpful way for police to get clues," Wang Hongjun, director of the public order research office at Chinese People's Public Security University, told China Daily on Friday.
"It is indispensable for police to confirm relationships with its DNA database," Wang said.
During the investigations, however, police must carefully verify online clues to avoid fake leads, Wang added.
"The online crackdown on child trafficking is positive, especially by the micro blogs, which can spread clues and post children's information quickly," said Qian Jun, a Beijing-based lawyer specializing in online cases.
"The key lies in making efforts to protect victims' rights and prevent them from being harmed again," Qian added.
-China Daily/Asia News Network