Tuesday, November 30, 2010

US Statistics On Missing And Exploited Children

There is so much talk about missing and exploited children by our forum I started to wonder what the actual statistics are and found them on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's website. Their site is extensive but I'm sure that we don't have completely accurate numbers because so many children are afraid to report their experiences. I have reprinted their frequently asked questions page with their permission.

How many children are reported missing each year?

The U.S. Department of Justice reports:
  • 797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one-year period of time studied resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.
  • 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions.
  • 58,200 children were the victims of non-family abductions.
  • 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. (These crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.)
How many cases of missing children has the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) helped resolve? Since 1984, NCMEC has assisted law-enforcement with more than 168,000 missing-child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 157,720 children.

How many calls does the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's hotline (1-800-THE-LOST®) handle?
In the last quarter of 2010, the Hotline handled an average of 262 service-related calls per day. Since its 1984 inception, the toll-free Hotline has handled more than 2.5 million calls.

How many children have been recovered through AMBER ALERTS?
Since 1997, the Amber Alert program has been credited with the safe recovery of 523 children. To date there is a network of 120 AMBER Plans across the country.

Where can I find statistics about missing and/or exploited children in a particular state?
State-specific statistics are available through state clearinghouses. Click here for a list and contact information.
How many children are victims of online sexual exploitation?
According to the latest online victimization research,
  • Approximately one in seven youth online (10 to 17-years-old) received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet.
  • Four percent (4%) received an aggressive sexual solicitation - a solicitor who asked to meet them somewhere; called them on the telephone; or sent them offline mail, money, or gifts.
  • Thirty-four percent (34%) had an unwanted exposure to sexual material -- pictures of naked people or people having sex.
  • Twenty-seven percent (27%) of the youth who encountered unwanted sexual material told a parent or guardian. If the encounter was defined as distressing - episodes that made them feel very or extremely upset or afraid - forty-two percent (42%) told a parent or guardian. 
 How pervasive is the problem of child sexual exploitation?
Research indicates that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized before adulthood.
[D. Finkelhor. “Current Information on the Scope and Nature of Child Sexual Abuse.” The Future of Children: Sexual Abuse of Children, 1994, volume 4, page 37.]

How many reports of child exploitation have been made to CyberTipline?
CyberTipline has received more than 972,600 reports since it was established in March 1998.
Reports to CyberTipline involve the possession, manufacture and distribution of child pornography, the online enticement of children for sex acts, child prostitution, child sex-tourism, child molestation (not in the family), unsolicited obscene material sent to a child, and misleading domain names.

How many victims of child exploitation have been identified through the Child Victim Identification (CVIP) Program?
Through September 2010, CVIP has information on more than 3,100 child victims from around the world seen in sexually abusive images.
Through September 2010, CVIP Analysts reviewed seized child pornography collections from more than 25,000 investigations across the country, through the Child Recognition and Identification System (CRIS).
CVIP has reviewed and analyzed more than 40,829,500 pornography images and videos.



Predators In The Hood

Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Police appeal to locate a man who may be a danger to the public (Forcewide)

Avon and Somerset Police need help in locating this man.

I really don't know how they could lose him in the first place though.

His bail condition was that he lived in Worcester..............are there no children there???


 Police in Avon and Somerset are appealing for information to trace a man charged with 26 sexual offences.

Wanted man Robert Hands

Roberts Hands, 53, was last seen in July of this year. He has since failed to appear at Bristol Crown court on the following charges committed between 1999 and 2009:

• 4 counts of rape
• 6 counts of sexual activity with a child with penetration
• 3 counts of sexual activity with a child no penetration
• 3 counts of indecent assault of a girl under the age of 13
• 3 counts of indecency with a child
• 2 counts of inciting sexual activity with a child
• 5 counts of making indecent images of children

He is described as white; around 5ft 9 inches tall, of a heavy build, with shoulder length brown/greying hair which is sometimes tied in a pony tail. He has a grey beard, sometimes in a goatee style and sometimes full face, blue eyes, and scar on left side of abdomen.

He is known to considerably change his appearance.

Robert Hands was last seen in Worcester where he was living as part of his bail conditions. A warrant has been issued for his arrest, and numerous attempts have been made to find him in areas he has previously been linked. These include the West Midlands, West Mercia, Humberside, and Devon & Cornwall Police. He is also connected to addresses in the Worcester, Droitwich, Bilston, Hull, and Teignmouth area.

Mr Hands is potentially a danger to the public. Anyone who may know his whereabouts is asked to call Avon and Somerset police on 0845 456 7000 or contact your local police if not in the Avon and Somerset area.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Watkins Missing Children

Stephen Watkins is a member of Peace4 the Missing and recently left the following info on our network ... sharing here as well in hope that his boys may soon come home to him ...

“Watkins Missing Children” in the 4th Annual Mashable Awards NEWS Article by: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/300628

Sara Huizenga

Founder of Peace4 the Missing


To vote for the Watkins video:

1- GOTO - http://mashable.com/awards/votes/category/8?c=8

2 - LOG-IN Using - FaceBook / Twitter

3 - NOMINATE LINK - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ6ixtePgyI

4 - CATEGORY - Best Web Video

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Good News Update

We have had some good news in our Missing section of the forum in the last couple of days!!
It gives us all a lift knowing that these children have been located and returned to a safe place!!








Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Voice For Madeleine

Joana Morais Blog 

15 November 2010

Posted by Joana Morais

Maddie's olfactory memory was washed off from her favourite plush toy, cuddle cat -
image based on a real photograph from the Process Files Volume VIII, page 2098
The McCann couple wants to review the case? Well, let's help them, not merely to review the case, but to reopen it!

Surely, the McCann couple's ultimate goal with their 31 000 plus, unverified, easily hacked and multiple signed petition is to have the case of Madeleine, their missing daughter, reopened?

Undoubtedly, the couple's latest interviews alleging that their private and costly rent-a-cops are «the only ones looking» for Madeleine - where they have also complained over the «depleted» fund, at least, in the UK media and «not so quite depleted» in the Portuguese media - have the ultimate goal of pressuring the authorities, specifically, the only Police that has jurisdiction and the permission to investigate criminal cases in the sovereign country of Portugal - the Portuguese Judiciary Police - to continue the search for their daughter?

Unquestionably, the fact that the McCann couple are writing a new book to fill the private limited company fund coffers, a book that is to be published in April 2011(?) of which they have already received an «advance» shows in their own peculiar 'McCann way, that the couple are truly willing to do something more active than the usual media spins - who knows, they might even be willing, this time, to answer the questions left unanswered back in 2007 or to finally do an official reconstruction as asked by the police, so the criminal investigation into their daughter's disappearance can be resumed.

So, let's help the McCann couple, let's help them by asking, as it is our right, for the Portuguese Public Ministry [the Attorney General] to reopen the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance - not for them. For their daughter!

How? Let us use the power that we have as citizens, our voices together in a real petition, united for a real purpose, with real and validated signatures, intended to do one thing alone: to reopen a missing child's case. A case that was archived due to the poor cooperation of some people, namely the child's parents and the child's parents' friends; and due to the political and economic interference and interests, of certain people from both the United Kingdom and Portugal.

Three and a half years ago, a couple left three young children with a combined aged of seven, alone in an apartment whilst they went out to have dinner with other seven adult friends in a restaurant about 100 meters away; from that restaurant none of the group of nine people, pictured above, could keep their children safe in sight, nor hear them, nor help them in case of an emergency; - a three year old child, soon to be four, mysteriously disappeared in consequence of those irresponsible, and criminally punishable actions.

Three and a half years later, the investigation case files are well known to many - to those who took the time to read them; and so are the diligences that a hasty archival prevented the Judiciary Police of concluding.

It is our right to demand the reopening as tax paying and as law abiding citizens, who share a common public interest - to stop the farce that has been affecting both our countries' relations, in spite of what an oblivious demissionary Ambassador has said and a non-demissionary one has written; a perverse mockery of Social and Justice systems, of shared common values and ethics, something that certain unscrupulous people would rather see dismissed under a big carpet; and also to prevent other children being abused by Team McCann PR spins and a equally abusing world wide voracious media - I recall the deceased Mari Luz Cortés and her family as the most damning example.

Above all, it is our right to demand the reopening of Madeleine's case, simply because it is inadmissible for a missing child case, independently of colour, religion or nationality, to be archived when the Police clearly believes that there are further steps to be taken!

It is time to speak for those who can't. It's time to speak up for Madeleine.

Take Action! Sign the petition: A Voice For Madeleine · Uma Voz Por Madeleine · Une voix pour Madeleine · Eine Stimme für Madeleine · Una Voz para Madeleine · Een Stem voor Madeleine·

[All emphasis - emboldened and underlined - is attributed to the original author: Joana Morais]


Read the McCann's petition HERE!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

10,000 UK paedophiles 'named and shamed' on CHRIS website

The Telgraph
Internet vigilante publishes database naming 10,000 paedophiles

7:30AM GMT 05 Nov 2010

Campaigner Chris Wittwer, 35, posted names, pictures and details of sex offenders across Britain on his site CHRIS (Children Have Rights In Society).

He said he had spent ''every waking hour'' for three years gathering police mugshots of registered sex offenders to compile the gallery of sex offenders.

It means anyone can see who has been convicted of a sexual assault in their area.

But the site was criticised by police who said the information may push paedophile rings underground as they move away from areas in a bid to conceal their identity.

There are also fears that vigilante groups may target those named and photographed for reprisals.
Mr Wittwer, of Exminster, Devon, has spent years creating his comprehensive database, which went live yesterday and said parents have the right to know where registered paedophiles live.

Father-of two Mr Wittwer said: ''It is not just about naming and shaming but also to provide support for all survivors of abuse.

''It has taken three years of research and another six months to get the site set up.
''I feel really proud. It's quite an achievement and if it helps people spot sex offenders living in their area who are a known risk to children, I've done a good thing.''

Mr Wittwer compiled details of convicted sex offenders by checking local newspapers and court records before cross-referencing them against the national sex offenders' register.

The ex-Army chef had previously tried to list paedophiles on a Facebook site, which was closed down by police.

But warehouse worker Mr Wittwer was able to start again after showing he was not breaking any laws by presenting information already in the public domain.

The website is expected to receive in excess of 250,000 hit today (Friday) after going online for the first time last night.

He says he will keep adding to his website until it features details of all all 180,000 convicted paedophiles in Britain.

Mr Wittwer said: ''Child abuse is a problem in this country that nobody seems to want to tackle head on.

''I certainly don't want to encourage or condone violence against these offenders, but people need to be aware of dangerous paedophiles living in their area.

''We are predicting so much traffic to the site that we needed to get a special server. It's a massive project, but totally worthwhile.''

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said it already followed nationally recognised protocols to manage sex registered sex offenders, which had proved ''effective''.

He said: ''The open disclosure of the details of registered sex offenders, such as that on the CHRIS website, is not a process that Devon & Cornwall Police encourages.

''It is felt this disclosure may actually make it more difficult to manage these individuals, as they become reluctant to keep authorities updated with their living arrangements and they become more difficult to track and manage.

''The website as it stands is not breaking any laws as all the information has previously been published in the public domain.

''However, it is felt the collating and publishing of this material raises awareness of where these individuals are living and ultimately may inhibit people's safety rather than protecting it - the offenders may seek to move on without updating authorities.''

* Mr Wittwer' website was due to go live on Thursday night.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

McCanns Sign Missing Madeleine Book Deal

Sky News

Jo Couzens, Sky News Online

Monday November 15, 2010

Kate and Gerry McCann have signed a deal to write a book about their daughter Madeleine's disappearance and their efforts to find her.

Kate and Gerry McCann have already started writing their book

After a major bidding war, Transworld has won the rights to the couple's account of how the youngster vanished on a family holiday in Portugal in 2007.

All proceeds from the book will go to the McCanns' official fund to search for Madeleine, which had been in danger of running out next year.

The details of the publishing deal have not been released but it is believe to include a "substantial" advance and "enhanced royalties" giving the McCanns a bigger share of the sales profits.

The book, which will be called Madeleine, will be published on April 28 next year to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the young girl's disappearance.

Our hope is that it may prompt those who have relevant information - knowingly or not - to come forward and share it with our team. Somebody holds that key piece of the jigsaw.
Gerry McCann on the book deal with Transworld 

Mrs McCann, 42, said: "My reason for writing is simple - to give an account of the truth.
"Publishing this book has been a very difficult decision and is one that we have taken after much deliberation and with a very heavy heart.

"However, in the last few months, with the depletion of Madeleine's Fund, it is a decision that has virtually been taken out of our hands.

"Every penny we raise through its sales will be spent on our search for Madeleine.

Nothing is more important to us than finding our little girl."

Madeleine McCann went missing in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007

Her husband, also 42, added: "We are hopeful that this book may help the investigation to find Madeleine in other ways, too.

"Our hope is that it may prompt those who have relevant information - knowingly or not - to come forward and share it with our team. Somebody holds that key piece of the jigsaw."

Transworld has acquired the rights to publish the book - which is already partly written by the McCanns - in the UK, the Commonwealth and Europe.

Former Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral accused the McCanns in his book

The west London-based publisher is home to best-selling authors including The Da Vinci Code writer Dan Brown, fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

The McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, are fighting a legal battle against former Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral over his book alleging that Madeleine died in the apartment and that her parents faked her abduction - something they strongly deny.

The appeal court in Lisbon last month overturned an injunction obtained by the couple banning publication of Mr Amaral's work, Maddie: The Truth Of The Lie

Monday, November 15, 2010

The End of My World: The shocking true story of a young girl forced to become a sex slave

by Emma Jackson

ISBN-10: 0091930529
ISBN-13: 9780091930523
Publisher: Ebury Press
Published: 4/2/2010
‘I’d never have guessed that when your world’s tumbling down you can carry on as usual. But it wasn’t like I had a big sign on my back saying “I’ve been raped.” Nobody noticed a thing.’

Emma was just 13 when her happy childhood came crashing down. She had no idea the young lads she and her friends met every Saturday in the shopping mall weren’t all they seemed.

The boys were part of an organised gang targeting innocent young girls, grooming them for prostitution. Captivated by the ring leader, Emma didn’t see the first brutal rape coming. From then on, her life was never her own …

This is the harrowing true story of how a nice girl from a good home found herself drawn into a trap of degradation and violence, frightened for her life and not knowing where to turn. But it is also the story of finding the courage and inner strength to risk everything, and escape.


What the critics say...

Emma's account is both heart-wrenching and convincing in every detail
Independent on Sunday

Read the reviews on Amazon...

This is a deeply disturbing book that I read in the first instance out of curiosity. How is it possible for a thirteen-year old girl from a warm and loving family, still at school and living at home, to become enmeshed in the sex trade?
Truly amazing book, the best true story i have ever read, cant believe how these things happen and are still happening.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A boyfriend or a pimp??

 Children (mostly girls, but not always) as young as 10 years old are groomed, trafficked and sexually exploited by older men. When I say ‘older men’, I don't mean 50-60 year olds, I mean men in their mid 20's - young enough to make the excuse of being a boyfriend.

The victims are offered drinks, cigarettes, drugs etc. but later are made to repay the favours by having sex with friends of the man concerned. This in many situations is the beginning of years of sexual abuse.

The link to a story in the Daily Mail from earlier this year tells of horrific abuse to a young girl who was prostituted out by a group of Asian men. Sadly this is not a ‘one-off’ by any means.

According to the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) approximately 35 accused go through the legal system each year under charges of human trafficking.
Barnardos quote a figure of approx 75 victims of trafficking a year with as many as 1,000 victims falling prey to pimping or prostitution.

 The problem is, from what I can understand from the Crown Prosecution Services, that because it is so difficult to get a conviction for charges of human trafficking it is more common to try for a lesser conviction of rape. This of course masks the true extent of the problem and leaves the accused with a much more lenient sentence and able to return to their disgusting activities within months of the court case.

Although this problem is rife in parts of Northern England it does happen all over the country, victims are alienated from their families and find it incredibly difficult to rebuild their lives if they are lucky enough to escape from the culture of abuse.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Police think they've found NC girl's remains

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Associated Press

Friday November 12, 2010

HICKORY, N.C. — Investigators said Friday they believe they have found the remains of a disabled North Carolina girl who was reported missing about a month ago.

Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins said investigators matched a bone found a couple of weeks ago with 10-year-old Zahra Baker's DNA.

"I've been dreading this moment from early on in the investigation," Adkins said. "We have recovered enough physical evidence to think we have found Zahra."

Police also found a child's remains earlier this week in western North Carolina in an area near where Zahra's stepmother once lived. The remains will need to be tested to make sure they also belong to Zahra, Adkins said.

The freckle-faced Zahra, who had bone cancer that forced her to use a prosthetic leg and hearing aids, was reported missing by her parents Oct. 9. They said she was last seen in her bed at their home in Hickory, about 50 miles northwest of Charlotte.

A couple of weeks later, her prosthetic leg and the bone were discovered in some brush, about five miles away from where the other remains were found buried.

"Investigators, agents, officers and staff who worked on this case are devastated that we were not able to find Zahra alive and bring her home safely," Adkins said.

Adkins did not take any questions at the news conference and police have not said how they think Zahra died.

Zahra was born in Australia and moved to North Carolina about two years ago after her father, Adam Baker, met his soon-to-be wife, Elisa Baker, online. Zahra's friends and relatives in Giru, Australia, described her as an outgoing, happy girl despite the cancer, and said she didn't want to come to the U.S.

Soon after Zahra was reported missing, investigators cast doubt on accounts given by Zahra's father and stepmother. Police had trouble finding anyone other than Zahra's parents who had seen her alive in the weeks before her disappearance, and a suspicious early morning fire occurred at the family's home several hours before she was reported missing.

It was then that police discovered a ransom note addressed to Adam Baker's boss on the windshield of Baker's car. Police went to that man's house, and found him and his daughter to be fine. Elisa Baker, 42, admitted writing the bogus ransom note and has been charged with obstruction of justice. She is still being held in jail.

Adam Baker, 33, was arrested on charges unrelated to Zahra's disappearance and is free on bail. He is facing one count each of assault with a deadly weapon and failure to return rental property, two counts of communicating threats and five counts of writing worthless checks, authorities said.

Neighbors and relatives have said that Elisa Baker had a short temper and was abusive toward her stepdaughter. Caldwell County Department of Social Services investigated the family because Zahra went to school with bruises and a teacher alerted school officials, who have said they are prohibited by law from discussing the case.

Zahra's friends and family in Australia were less than thrilled when she moved away, especially since her medical treatments were free there. Kim Wright, who came something of a surrogate mother to Zahra in Australia, told The Associated Press they became friends four years ago at a cancer fundraising event. She was sitting in a chair waiting for her head to be shaved to raise money when Zahra approached, took her hand and told her not to be scared.

Zahra was diagnosed with bone cancer about five years ago. She had her leg amputated and a few months later, doctors discovered tumors in her lungs. She had chemotherapy, but the treatment led to a partial hearing loss. Still, she remained upbeat, attending a camp for children with cancer and inspiring her fellow campers by taking part in all the physical activities.


View Zahra's thread on the Find Madeleine forum HERE!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

275,000 Missing Britons every year to face government cuts

The Independent On Sunday

Missing persons services at risk as funding is slashed
National charity to lose all its government cash as police admit their work on the issue will also be hit

By Brian Brady, Whitehall Editor

Sunday November 7, 2010

How 'The Independent on Sunday' last year highlighted
the crisis facing the charity, Missing People
George Osborne's multibillion-pound spending cuts threaten to sever a national "lifeline" that helps tens of thousands of missing people and the families they leave behind.

Britain's biggest missing persons charity has been plunged into crisis after ministers confirmed it will lose all of its £500,000 government funding. Missing People, which helps more than 100,000 callers a year, warns that the cut will cause "catastrophic" damage to its work supporting "mispers", runaways and their families...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A miracle in Missouri

There are so many sad cases regarding missing children that we wanted to share one that was actually joyful. This article chronicles the disappearance and discovery of five-year-old Joshua Lane Bender. Joshua is more than your typical five-year-old, he is from a Mennonite family and community and has Down's Syndrome. The latter made it harder to find him since he is mainly non-verbal but the former made it more possible to find him as the entire Mennonite community of Knob Noster, MO and the surrounding areas  turned out to look for him when he came up missing on Saturday, 3 October, around 5 pm.

By Sunday morning nearly 200 people were searching for Joshua on his family's property on foot and ATVs. This number also included soldier air crews from nearby Whiteman Air Force base. Also, van loads of Mennonite families from throughout Missouri showed up to assist with the search. Even the Greater Kansas City Down Syndrome Guild came to the search area to provide the family and searchers knowledge of typical places those with Down syndrome might wander to. It would seem almost everyone that heard about Joshua wanted to be a part of his rescue in some fashion.
It must have seemed like the longest night of his mother's life as the temperatures dropped and Joshua was still nowhere to be found. He was described as having on a long-sleeved sweatshirt, but a heavy coat would have been the appropriate attire for a small boy out in the night.
As the morning dawned, the searchers never stopped their steady pace of looking for him and it paid off. Joshua was finally found by someone searching on foot about 100 yards from his family's farmhouse in a huge crop of soybeans on the 240-acre farm. Ironically, the same area had been searched before in the night but Joshua remained invisible to the searchers at the time. His father said when he was found he was cold and wet and had blue feet but there was no lasting damage to Joshua physically.
As for what happened to make Joshua lose his way, his grandfather, Glenn Bender, says Joshua is very interested in what his siblings are doing and he was convinced Joshua followed one of his brothers and got lost along the way. Joshua's grandfather also suspected that he might have gotten scared and fallen asleep, which was why he wasn't found during the night. "What he'll do when he gets scared is he'll sit down on the spot, start crying and stick his thumb in his mouth. After a while, he'll go to sleep."

His grateful parents were talking about putting a tracking device on him to prevent another occurrence like this one. They said that it is worth it to keep him safe at any cost. 
View Joshua's thread on the Find Madeleine forum  Here!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Madeleine McCann's parents seek support for London and Lisbon to review the case

The parents of British girl Madeleine McCann today called for support to ensure that the British and Portuguese governments will jointly review the case and "do more" to find their daughter, three and a half years after her disappearance whilst vacationing with her family in the Algarve Portugal.

In a letter, Kate and Gerry McCann urged people to support the search for "Maddie" by signing a petition seeking to pressure the British and Portuguese authorities to carry out "a transparent and independent review of all information connected with the disappearance of Madeleine".

Please sign their petition here


This is the full text of the letter urging people to support the McCanns’ petition, taken from the Liverpool Echo.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As I write, it is exactly three and a half years since our daughter Madeleine was so cruelly taken from us.

Three and a half years without her seeing her brother, her sister, her Mummy, her Daddy or her best friends.

We are still searching for her. Our small team continues to review all available information, even though we STILL don’t have access to ALL of the information that the UK and Portugese authorities have. Our team has interviewed hundreds of witnesses, received over 1,000 calls, dealt with over 15,000 emails and maintained a computerised database of all information they have received. Despite the difficulties resulting from lack of official assistance, they "follow up" all new leads to try and get fresh information into the investigation.

It is incredible to think that for the last two years and three months NO police force has proactively been doing anything to help us find Madeleine. Crucially, there has been NO formal review of the material held by the police authorities - which is routine practice in most countries, and especially when a key piece of the "jigsaw" may have been overlooked.

We have tried in vain to get the authorities to play their part but our requests have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. It is simply not acceptable that they have, to all intents and purposes, given up on Madeleine. We need the authorities to do more.

However we know we are not alone. We have the tremendous support of family, friends and of course you the public. A lot of this support comes in the form of people saying to us, "if there’s anything we can do, just let us know" or "I’d like to help but I don’t know how". To these people, and indeed yourself, my plea is simple.

We need your support to continue to lobby the British and Portugese governments to undertake a joint or independent review of Madeleine’s case.

How can you do this?

Simply visit: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/madeleinemccann_case_review/ and sign the petition to call on the UK and Portugese authorities to conduct an independent and transparent review of all information in relation to the disappearance of Madeleine. And in turn, please spread the word and encourage as many others to do the same. Together we can, and will pull all of the loose ends of Madeleine’s case together and find her.

Thank you

Monday, November 1, 2010

Internet chats and its dangers

I am aware that this subject does not headline missing children, however there are many children and young adults who go missing and are sadly later found dead due to the dangers internet chats can lead to and the latter meet up with these chat partners. Some of them are found again, alive, with a traumatic story to tell.

Others are “groomed” over the net, and are brainwashed over months or even years. Some come back home and through counseling can manage to lead a normal life after that, others are not so strong, and even take their own lives due to frustration about the past, and see no way forward.

I would like to use a recent case from here in Germany to highlight the problem of chatting over the internet and then meeting up without a clue WHO they´re meeting with; a case of a young girl called Melanie , aged 23 years. Unfortunately she was killed in an horrendous manner, and had she followed a few simple rules of internet chats and how to do so safely, she may still be alive today.

Melanie had made a new friend in cyberworld, a man who used an “internet username” by the name of 'SARAH', so Melanie was under the impression that she was chatting to a girl. He managed to get her to trust him to the point where they made an agreement to meet up. On Tuesday evening 26th October 2010, they met up at a Fastfood café, and for the first time Melanie realized what had happened. Too late ! She was brutally murdered and her body was hidden in the woods. A search began immediately; dogs sniffed her as far as a riverbank, and there it ended. However, the police searched Melanie´s computer and managed to get enough information to enable them to make an arrest and the culprit showed the police where he had hidden the body.

Benjamin F did not sexually abuse Melanie

I will admit to also meeting up with “cyber friends “; people I had never met in my life before, only people I had chatted to on the internet. However, I had known these people for a great length of time; we had exchanged photographs of each other as well as chatted using a webcam. Only after that did we exchange telephone numbers and literally spoken with each other every now and then. I will also admit to then still feeling rather cautious as I had to fly to another country in order to meet up! My plan was to have a back-up and my family knew where I was going and also had contact with the person I was meeting at the other end. I had a lovely weekend and everything went as well as planned !

Anybody who chats on an internet site/social network , and it is suggested to meet-up personally, there are a few rules which have to be applied BEFORE doing so:
  1. Make sure you know exactly who you are chatting to by using a webcam.
  2. Exchange photos to enable you to make sure you have the correct person on the other side of the line. Webcams are best for that. It´s a live picture !
  3. Make sure you have known this person for a longer period and collected enough information about them to make you feel at ease.
  4. When a personal meet-up takes place, ensure you do not go alone the first time ! If it is a genuine person you are meeting, he/she will not mind if you do so. 
An excellent story to read about “grooming” is this :
IN LOVING MEMORY OF KRISTIN DANIELLE HELMS – a young girl who fell victim to an internet sexual predator.
Kristin began chatting to a man at the age of 14. Two years later, after helping the police to arrest this same man, Kristin took her own life.

Please do not hesitate to add a comment. I am sure there may be more rules we can put out there or suggestions to help prevent this LARGE and WORLDWIDE problem in the future.