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No, a child is not reported missing every 5 hours in South Africa

This article is more than 7 years old

An IOL article has repeated a much circulated, but incorrect, statistic that a child goes missing every 5 hours.

The article, providing sound advice on steps parents could take to ensure their children’s safety this festive season, relays figures provided in the latest Missing Children South Africa media release.

The media release summarised cases of missing children reported to the organisation. Between December 2015 and August 2016, there were 142. This would mean that a child was reported missing to Missing Children SA every 3 days on average.

So where is the “every 5 hours” statistic from?

When we fact-checked the figure in October, Missing Children SA confirmed to Africa Check that it is based on 2013 data from the police’s Bureau for Missing Persons. In that year 1,697 children were reported missing to the bureau.

At the time of our report, 866 children had been reported missing to the bureau this year. This would mean that a child was reported missing every 10 hours on average.

Section commander of the bureau, Colonel Fanie van Deventer, said that the figure “includes children that are reported as missing but were found within, at the most, three hours”. - 15/12/2016


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