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Deputy Home Minister Datuk Masir Kujat says a total of 1,803 children and teenagers under 18 years of age were reported missing last year. (Image is for illustration purpose only.)

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 1,803 children and teenagers under 18 years of age were reported missing last year the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Of the number, 979 of them were found while 824 others are still missing.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Masir Kujat said the number had increased as compared to 2015 figures when 1,782 went missing, 1,563 were found and 219 are still missing

In 2014, a total of 2,015 people were reported missing, 1,959 were traced and 56 still missing while in the previous year 2,054 people were reported missing with 2,026 people found and 28 still missing.

For the period 2013 - 2016 it was revealed that the main cause of teenagers running away from home was to seek freedom which involved 4,188 cases, following friends (1,330 cases), following lovers (1,025 cases), family misunderstandings (715 cases), not interested in studies (150 cases ), seeking employment (101 cases), custody disputes (64 cases) and lack of family attention (81 cases).

He was replying to a question from Dr Izani Husin (PAS-Pengkalan Chepa) who wanted to know the statistics on children and teenagers running from home from 2013 to 2016.

Masir said the problem of runaway teenagers and children could be solved if parents monitored their children’s movement and friends as well as forbade them from going out with strangers.

He said parents should also monitor their children’s digital use and interactions on social media platforms such as Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp, YouTube as they could be easily influenced, adding that to steer them away from unhealthy culture, parents should emphasise on religious and moral education.

He added that in terms of gender 1,222 female children and teenagers went missing last year as compared to 581 male children and teenagers.

From 2013 to 2016, 65 cases involved children aged six and under, seven to 12 years old (297 cases), 13 to 15 years old (3,959 cases) and 16 to 18 years (3,333 cases) in the 2013 to 2016 period.

In terms of racial composition 5,123 cases involved Malays, Chinese (528), Indians (758) and other races (1,245).--BERNAMA

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