Province funds social media program to find missing children

By Taylor MacPherson
November 26, 2017 - 2:00pm

A social media network designed to quickly and widely spread information on missing children is expanding into Saskatchewan thanks to a big funding boost from the provincial government.

The Missing Children Society of Canada’s Most Valuable Network Program received $100,000 in new funding from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice, which will be used to expand the program into this province. The money comes from the provincial Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund, which is raised through the sale of criminal assets and is used to support programs which benefit public safety.

Amanda Pick, CEO of the Missing Children Society of Canada, said her organization works directly with police to share information on missing children through social media.

“Our Most Valuable Network Program is about connecting the community with police in the case of a missing child,” Pick said. “The key to all of this is really creating a community of digital volunteers.”

Anyone can sign up to help, Pick said, by giving their network permission to post to various social media accounts including Facebook and Twitter. They don’t access any personal information, she said, but simply post cases of local missing children to ensure the information are seen by as many people as possible in the area where the child was last seen.

“If a child goes missing, then police connect with us and provide information on the child,” Pick said. “Police can access that network and push information out to the community.”

The new funding will allow the program to expand into Saskatchewan, Pick said, and expand their digital infrastructure even further. The ultimate goal, she said, is to have every Saskatchewan resident participate in the network.

Pick said social media has been “game-changing” when it comes to finding missing children, but noted that sometimes unofficial information is widely shared as well. All the information shared through their network comes directly from police, she said, so users can be sure every post is official.

Volunteers can sign up to join the network through the Missing Children Society website, Pick said.

Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said it’s important for Saskatchewan to keep up with the times when it comes to missing person investigations.

“The introduction of social media has changed a lot about modern life over the last decade, and it’s important that we recognize that and make use of these powerful tools when we’re dealing with something as important as a missing child,” Morgan said in a statement.

Morgan said the network will assist the province’s police during their investigations, and will help spread information quickly even when a missing child does not meet the criteria necessary for an Amber Alert activation.


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