e-ISSN 2231-8542
ISSN 1511-3701

Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 21 (S) Dec. 2013 / JSSH-1001-2013


Missing Children and Parental Struggle: From Chaos to Coping

Salina Nen, Khadijah Alavi, Fauziah Ibrahim, Suzana Mohd Hoesni and Norulhuda Sarnon

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 21, Issue S, December 2013

Keywords: Missing children, runaway children, parent’s trauma, coping strategy

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The aim of this qualitative study was to explore parental experiences in handling missing/ runaway children below the age of 12. Data was collected using in-depth interviews and later analyzed using thematic analysis. The parents were identified from the police data of reported missing/runaway children from years 2009 and 2010. Two main themes emerged from parents’ reaction to missing children: negative psychological responses and disruption of daily activities. Fear for the child’s safety, worry and anxiety were the most commonly reported feelings. Most parents reported that they felt “their world turned upside down” when their children went missing. Parents relied heavily on social support such as families, neighbors, friends of their children, and the police to locate missing/runaway children. Seeking information and visiting children’s favorite places appeared as important strategies used by parents. Parents showed that they trusted close social networks more than the police in assisting them. This study emphasizes the importance of mutual understanding between parents and authorities with regards to managing a crisis situation such as this one. Psychoeducation programmes for both parents and authorities are needed to improve collaboration, to better understand and cope with challenging situations related to missing/ runaway children.

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

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