Parents warned over ‘missing’ children

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CHILDREN across Wearside and East Durham have sparked safety scares after parents failed to report their whereabouts.

Official figures show Sunderland City Council recorded 15 referrals in the past two years from schools regarding pupils whose location was unknown.

Elsewhere, five youngsters were classed as “untraced” in East Durham during the same period.

A total of 135 cases were investigated by officials at Durham County Council.

Referrals are made only after steps have been taken to establish the child’s whereabouts, including, where possible, visiting a last-known address and attempting to contact the family using all known contact numbers.

Each case is referred to the police to see if anything is known about the family’s whereabouts.

Children disappear for a variety of reasons, including families suddenly relocating to another part of the country, divorce and domestic violence.

In Sunderland, the children are understood to have been reported missing throughout the year and were later relocated.

Councillor Pat Smith, portfolio holder for children’s services at Sunderland Council, said it was vital parents stayed in touch with their children’s schools.

“It is important that a parent contacts their child’s school as soon as possible when their child is unable to attend, as parents have a vital role to play in safeguarding our pupils and helping our schools provide pupils with the best possible education and learning opportunities,” said Coun Smith.

“By working together we can avoid non-attendance becoming a problem and ensure that our children have the best opportunity to fulfil their educational potential.”

Bosses at Durham County Council also urged families to inform schools of any change of circumstances.

Maureen Clare, head of countywide services, said: “We would encourage parents to let their child’s teachers know where they are moving to when they take their child out of school, to assist with ensuring that their education continues as smoothly as possible.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho