Sunday, September 21, 2008

ARTICLE #130) While you’re reading this, another child will disappear

PICTURED: Mikelle Sasakamoose, Reporter

Friday, September 20, 2008
While you’re reading this, another child will disappear
Kamloops This Week by Mikelle Sasakamoose

Kamloops is a big hockey town, but it’s also a renowned softball city.

Naturally, as a good, upstanding citizen, I have dragged both my hockey and ball bags around town — along with my child.

My girl has grown up at the ball park and kept warm running around Tournament Capital rinks during the winter.

She’s accompanied me to almost every game I’ve played since she was a baby, when I played in a ball tournament three weeks after she was born.

And I’m not the only player/parent, so she often has her pick of kids to kick it with, be it a Tuesday evening or a Sunday morning.

Even better, each parent keeps a watchful eye on the little ones and there is relatively no worry about what the rugrats are up to behind the dugout.

One summer day a few years ago, however, up at Albert McGowan Park, I told my daughter she could not wander over to the water park with her friends because I would not be able to see her.

But, being the independent little thing she is, she took it upon herself to take my car keys out of my bag when I was in the outfield, run up the hill to the parking lot, open the trunk of the car, get her swimsuit out and head to the bathrooms to change.

It sounds like a busy itinerary, but it was less than five minutes from the time I discovered she was missing to the time I found her coming out of the bathroom, bathing suit on backwards and looking like a deer caught in headlights.

And it’s a miracle I’m still alive because, for those five minutes, my lungs stopped working and my heart ceased to beat.

The only things that worked were my legs and eyes as I frantically ran around the water park and parking lot with my teammates, looking for my baby.

I can’t possibly describe the sheer terror and absolute madness I felt not knowing where my child was — and how incredibly grateful I am that it was only for minutes.

I remember the second I laid my eyes on her tiny disheveled frame coming out of the bathroom, fine hair falling out of her pony tail, loosened from changing her clothes, which lay in a trail behind her.

Thankfully, I was able to experience the flood of relief at finding my child, but not every parent is as lucky.

Kamloops’ girl Jessie Foster has been missing for more than two years and, just this week, a man tried to kidnap a baby in Riverside Park.

Around the world, children go missing in frightening numbers.

According to the Missing Children Society of Canada, more than 60,000 children went missing last year in Canada, a figure that works out to one child every nine minutes.

Most found their way home, but many did not.

Of that number, 56 were abducted by strangers.

It is estimated that 2,100 children go missing around the world every day — that’s almost 800,000 kids a year.

Few are lost. Most are taken.

So how do we protect our children without chaining them to our wrists?

We must be vigilant, but at a distance because sheltering our children from the world can also have dangerous consequences.

By sending them out educated and confident, however, they stand a fighting chance and it’s often said by those in law enforcement that children who appear self-assured are less desirable to predators, who prey on the weak and meek.

Child protection is no game, so get on the ball and help keep kids safe.

For more information, visit the Missing Children Society of Canada’s website at