Thursday, July 30, 2015

#ComeBackHome - Join hands to find missing children

In continuation to my earlier post Finding Missing Children in India I have been looking out for more ways by which we can help track and find a missing child. In that process came to know from my friend about

On the first look it definitely sounded like a great idea. The concept of this plugin is by just adding one single line of code in all websites we can get the entire internet search for the missing children. When the visitor click on the banner it will show the missing children in their geographical region. This plugin is integrated with multiple missing persons databases including Interpol, NCMEC (The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children) and NAMUS (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System). That said, if we know of any other countries authentic databases the code can be integrated with that too.

If a user of a website navigates to a page that does not exist, either because the user has mistyped an URL or trying to open an old bookmarked link which is not valid anymore it throws an error message: "HTTP 404 - Page Not Found". Why not make use of these pages to locate missing people? That's exactly what does. It adds an unintrusive banner with photos of missing people to any website's 404 error pages, with a hope that someone who visits the site might recognize the missing people.

"Saving one life is all it takes to make it worth the effort!"

Refer the below images to see how it would look for example in

If clicked on the banner this is how it would look like

There were few obvious questions which I wanted to get it clarified from the creators of this plugin - Bipin Suresh & Yang Su. So reached out to the contacts listed in their site and Bipin responded back with his detailed response. Thought would write about couple of those Q&A here.

1. Why are we targeting only "404 page not found" page alone? On production environment the probability of seeing this is very minimal isn't it?

When they built this plugin, they knew that the only way to make this an easy sell would be to make it as easy and painless as possible for website owners. Any obstacle (like the potential loss of traffic) would add to the inertia of not integrating. The reason they chose to promote this on 404 pages are:

  • These pages are high volume but low value
  • Convincing website owners to add this to their main pages is a harder sell
  • '404 - Person Not Found' is catchy and memorable

That said, yes, if we could convince people to add this to other pages, that would work well too, especially since, as we observed, those pages offer a magnitude of order more traffic.

2. How do we validate the authenticity of data?

As mentioned earlier the plugin is integrated with national / international databases of missing people. All vetting of records is done by these authorities.

So as a reader of this blog post what can you do?

A. CSR - My humble request is as part of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) if organizations integrate this in their website it would be a great help to the society. This will definitely show your company as progressive, socially very responsible and more importantly will create a social pressure for your competitors / others to follow suit. If the entire internet is searching for missing people I strongly believe they would be found. Can you please try to champion it in your organization? No harm in trying isn't it?

Think about this - somebody kidnaps a kid, based on the complaint it gets logged in the countries authentic database, from the next minute it will be flashed to users in appropriate geographical region - this will effectively restrict kidnappers movement to a very small circle & help find the kids quickly.

B. Have an Idea - Do you think you have an idea to make this better? The source code can be found here - please help them improve and make it better OR send it to the contact details mentioned in their site.

C. Help find databases in non US region - As we know this may not be the most current or up-to-date datasource for non US region. Reason being most of the international data is taken from Interpol which might not be up-to-date. The results are ranked based on recency and geography, but the underlying datasource should be rich and plentiful for relevancy. Please help find authentic databases of missing people in your country: especially in places like India, where data is sparse, and distributed.

Everybody in the world lead their life with hope and with this little effort from our side we can hope that there is a chance that someone who visits our site might recognize them. At the end of the day, even if one child is found with this effort, that's the end of one parent's nightmare.

If God knows everything that happens on Earth, and he can communicate with us, why doesn't he tell us the whereabouts of children that go missing? - Geronimo Jones

Monday, July 13, 2015

Finding missing children in India

Recently I come across at least one missing child information shared by my contacts in social media every week. The thought of what might their near and dear one's be going through in those period until they find the child is very disturbing. How on earth somebody is able to kidnap a child? Has money become so important in life that we lost all our moral values?

Few days back came to know that my cousins friends son was missing. I don't know for some reason it has been so disturbing that i haven't come out of that yet. During that period, came across couple of sites relating to this and I believe those weren't well advertised among the public. So thought I would do my share by writing a blog post and spreading the word around.  

These where important websites launched by government of India (Ministry of Women's and Child development) where one can register the details about the missing child. Since its government of India initiative hoping required focus would be there from the concerned authorities!!

1. Khoya Paya (Lost and Found) -

Important: Please note currently if you don't have a mobile number then you cannot register and post in this website. Also apart from posting it here its mandatory to register a FIR in the police station as well.

Steps to be followed by the Parents/Citizen in case a child is missingextract from

  • Dial 100 for police (or) 1098 for CHILDLINE.
  • Go to the Police station and register an FIR.
  • Upload the information of the child on the Khoya-Paya and other similar portals.
  • Think about what your child was wearing when you last saw him/her. Was he/she carrying with him/her, a mobile phone, money, bank cards, any items of sentimental value such as toy etc.?
  • Notify all local media assignment desks.
  • Make a list of / talk to friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who might have information or clues about your child.
  • If you know where your child is and you are still concerned for their safety (e.g. if they are at a house where you suspect criminal activities are taking place) you can ask the police to carry out a welfare check on that house or location.
  • Parents should immediately inform the Station Master or officer concerned at nearby railway station as usually trafficking or migration of children mostly takes place through railway route.
  • Rapidly create and disseminate posters to help generate leads.
  • Remember - NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!

Check out the Dos and Don'ts section of this site which talks about "What you can do to protect your child?"

Tips for parents to help their children stay safe - Extract from Do's & Don'ts section of

Safety at Home

A. Children should know their full name, home address, home phone number and how to use the telephone. Post your contact information where your children will see it: office phone number, cell phone etc.

B. Children should have a trusted adult to call if they're scared or have an emergency.

C. Choose caregiver/nanny with care. Obtain references from family, friends, and neighbors. Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask your children how the experience with the caregiver was, and listen carefully to their responses.

Safety in the Neighborhood

A. Make a list with your children of their neighborhood boundaries, choosing significant landmarks.

B. Interact regularly with your neighbors. Tell your children whose homes they are allowed to visit.

C. Don't drop your children off alone at fair, market places, railway stations, bus stands or parks.

D. Teach your children that adults should not approach children for help or directions. Tell your children that if they are approached by an adult, they should stay alert because this may be a "trick."

E. Never leave children unattended in an automobile. Children should never hitchhike or approach a car when they don't know and trust the driver.

F. Children should never go anywhere with anyone without getting your permission first.

G. Children should never go anywhere with anyone without getting your permission first.

Safety at School

A. Be careful when you put your child's name on clothing, backpacks, lunch boxes or bicycle license plates. If a child's name is visible, it may put them on a "first name" basis with an abductor.

B. Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they're being followed or need help. Make a map with your children showing acceptable routes to school, using main roads and avoiding shortcuts or isolated areas. If your children take a bus, visit the bus stop with them and make sure they know which bus to take.

Please check the Do's and Don'ts section of this site as it has other useful information's like:

1. How to talk to your Child (tips for discussing child safety)
2. What you can do to help your Child (tips for parents to help their children stay safe)
3. What your Child can do (the rules for younger children)
4. What your Teen can do (the rules for older children)
5. What your Child can do (at school and at home)
6. What to do in an Emergency (numbers to call and information to collect)
7. How to keep you Child safe in information superhighway (golden rules for safe browsing)
8. Additional resources for parents and children

Hoping for a day when child kidnapping, abuse & trafficking stops completely and these websites becomes obsolete. Till then lets stay safe people.

One missing child is one too many - John Walsh