Parents band together to start Facebook page

Local blogger Lee Kin Mun reached out to friends and followers on Twitter in 2012 to find his missing autistic daughter, Faith, then 11 years old. An effort to help parents who do not have similar resources has given birth to the group, Reunite Missi
Local blogger Lee Kin Mun reached out to friends and followers on Twitter in 2012 to find his missing autistic daughter, Faith, then 11 years old. An effort to help parents who do not have similar resources has given birth to the group, Reunite Missing Children.PHOTOS: MRBROWN, REUNITE MISSING CHILDREN/FACEBOOK
Local blogger Lee Kin Mun reached out to friends and followers on Twitter in 2012 to find his missing autistic daughter, Faith, then 11 years old. An effort to help parents who do not have similar resources has given birth to the group, Reunite Missi
Local blogger Lee Kin Mun reached out to friends and followers on Twitter in 2012 to find his missing autistic daughter, Faith, then 11 years old. An effort to help parents who do not have similar resources has given birth to the group, Reunite Missing Children.PHOTOS: MRBROWN, REUNITE MISSING CHILDREN/FACEBOOK

When the daughter of local blogger Lee Kin Mun, better known as mrbrown, went missing five years ago, social media played a pivotal role in helping to find her.

Faith, then 11 years old, has autism and could not talk. So her father tweeted a series of messages on what she looked like and where they had lost her. His tweets had more than 50 re-tweets each and "Faith" then trended on Twitter for about two hours.

She was eventually found 11/2 hours later by a train station staff member and Mr Lee's friend.

Unlike Mr Lee, not many parents of children with special needs are familiar with using social media or can tap a similarly large number of friends or followers to find their missing children.

So a group of parents have banded together to start a Facebook page and community to help disseminate appeals over missing children, particularly those with special needs.

 

Created in February, Reunite Missing Children has posted two missing notices of children with special needs.The group also posts resources to raise awareness among members of the public on how to identify and assist these children.

Said one of its founders, Ms Sun Meilan, 44: "Finding a missing child is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Social media allows us to alert the larger community so that they can help keep a lookout if they are in the vicinity."

She added: "Sometimes the authorities have scant details in their missing notices and other parents have been able chip in online with details of his clothing or interests to help the search."

Ms Sun had also invited a distributor of personal tracking devices last month to share with parents how these devices work. Children who wear them can be located via a mobile app.

However, many parents were hesitant to buy the devices as they can be expensive and their children tend to lose or remove them from their bodies.

Police said inquiries are immediately conducted when they receive a missing person report. This includes screening the person against police databases and checking with other institutions and hospitals. They may also issue appeals for information from the public on various platforms, including social media.

There is no minimum time required for the missing person to have lost contact with family members before a report can be lodged.

Said a police spokesman: "The viral nature of social media means that netizens are able to further disseminate the information shared by the police, thereby providing a multiplier effect to our efforts."

Ms Sun hopes that people will not stop short of sharing these missing children posts on social media.

She said: "Our resources are very limited and the parents of the missing child can get very anxious. We need more eyes on the ground."

Janice Tai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'Parents band together to start Facebook page'. Print Edition | Subscribe