In a 'webinar' held on the International Day of the Missing Child, which is marked on 25 May, Carlos Farinha observed that the 1,011 children and young people up to 18 years old missing in 2020 represent "a substantially lower number" than in previous years, this reduction is "surely" related to the pandemic of Covid-19.
According to Carlos Farinha, of the total number, 868 missing young people were between 14 and 17 years old, 90 were between 11 and 13 years old and 53 children were up to 10 years old.
The deputy national director of the PJ stressed that this data "does not include all missing children" in Portugal, often missing are the numbers from the PSP and GNR, and defended an improvement in statistics on the disappearance of children and young people so that there is "a more accurate representation of what is happening in this group" in the country.
Also present at the webinar, organised by the Portuguese Association for Missing Children (APCD), the president of the Institute for Child Support (IAC), Dulce Rocha, drew attention to the "major phenomena that are at the root of the disappearance" of children, such as sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Dulce Rocha also spoke of the "shocking situations" experienced by children and young people who run away from institutions, considering that "running away has irreversible consequences".
"In most cases, young people return to the institutions after some time, but the experiences they go through during their escape are very dramatic, making them even more vulnerable. Sexual exploitation is very present", she said.
Dulce Rocha considered that investment should be made in the training of professionals so that they "increasingly report to civil society organisations the disappearance of any child, even if there is an idea that they will return to the institution", as they need personalised follow-up and psychotherapy.