Taipei, Sept. 15 (CNA) The number of children going missing in Taiwan is on the decline, but the average age of children who disappear has risen over the past 20 years, the Children Welfare League Foundation said Saturday.
The foundation, which has been dedicated to helping locate missing children and teenagers for the past two decades, said there were 63 reported cases of children 18 and under who went missing in 2011, down from 157 in 2003.
Most of those who go missing now, however, are teenagers between 13 and 18 years old. They accounted for 76.2 percent of all children who went missing in 2011, compared with only 27.2 percent in 1992, according to foundation figures.
In contrast, the percentage of missing children accounted for by youngsters in the 7-12 age bracket over the same period fell from 22.4 percent to 9.5 percent and that accounted for by youngsters in the 0-6 age bracket plunged from 41.5 percent to 11.1 percent, the foundation said in a statement.
The majority of missing children are now girls, also in complete contrast to 20 years ago. While girls accounted for only 36.1 percent of all missing minors in 1992, they made up 74.6 percent of the total in 2011.
Also, the number of missing girls last year was three times that of missing boys, the foundation said.
As the average age of children in Taiwan who lost contact with their families has risen, running away from home has emerged as the main cause of the problem.
It accounted for 75.8 percent of missing children in 2011, up from 27.2 percent in 1992, the foundation said.
Inappropriate parenting and a bad family environment are the leading factors in driving teenagers to run away, the foundation said, but it noted that building effective communication channels between parents and children could go a long way to preventing the problem.
The nonprofit organization devoted to child welfare began a campaign in 1992 to help families look for their missing children and teenagers. To date, it has found 1,388 out of the 1,625 minors reported missing, the foundation said.
(By Zoe Wei and Elizabeth Hsu)