A total of 422 children went missing in 2017 with the number of missing girls three times higher than boys, the Police General Hospital’s Institute of Forensic Medicine, the Mirror Foundation and the Police’s Criminal Records Division told a press conference in Bangkok on Thursday.
Head of the foundation’s missing persons centre, Ekkalak Lumchomkhae, said an average of 400 children went missing in the past three years. The foundation early last year had reported a total of 424 children had been missing in 2016.
He said most missing children voluntarily ran away from their homes to escape domestic violence, while some fled to stay with boyfriends or in response to invitations from those they befriended via online media. Missing children were usually aged between 13 and 15.
Ekkalak also cited a report in the past four years that 12 missing children had been murdered, and three of those cases remained unsolved: a seven-year-old Cambodian girl was found murdered in Bangkok in April 2014; the skeleton of a two-year-old child – suspected to be that of a missing female toddler who had gone missing four months earlier – was discovered in Nakhon Si Thammarat in July 2016; while a six-year-old child was found murdered in Phuket in December 2013.
Pol Colonel Wathee Assawutmangkool, head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine’s Division for Blood, Biochemistry and Gun Residue Testing, said the institute’s Thailand DNA Pro-Kids Project since 2010 until now had collected DNA data of 1,292 children in Thailand.
The project’s main goal was to help identify thousands of children of unknown parents who were being cared for in welfare shelters across the country, he added.
CRD commander Pol Colonel Chaiwat Burana said his office, in keeping with international standards, would update every two years the sketches of children under 18 who were reported missing, while sketches of missing youth aged over 18 would be updated every five years. There was 70 per cent similarity in the sketches, based on physical information, photos and family members’ testimonies, and periodic updating of the sketches was to keep up with the missing persons’ appearances to help locate them.