PETALING JAYA: A startling average of 15 people went missing every day in Malaysia last year, nearly a quarter of them Malay girls aged between 13 and 17.
According to police records, 4,804 people were reported missing from January to October last year and more than half of them did not make it back home.
In 2011, 5,961 people went missing.
Police blamed peer pressure and social problems for the majority of missing person cases involving teenagers.
Federal CID director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said a number of missing people came from broken homes, where the parents were either divorced or separated.
“It is a domino effect, where teenagers from broken families are at an increased risk of peer pressure to run away from home,” he said.
Some who went missing were school dropouts while others, especially girls, ran away with their boyfriends.
The records also show that those aged between 13 and 17 are the highest age group reported to have disappeared from home.
Of this, Malay girls form the biggest group, making up 1,124 missing cases from January till October in 2012 and close to four times the total of their male counterparts.
Comm Mohd Bakri said there were isolated cases of missing people being victims of sexual predators and human traffickers.
The numbers also do not include cases of kidnapping, where the abductors have asked for ransom.
“The police have been working tirelessly to track down those who have gone missing.
“It is an uphill task but we try our best to find each and everyone who is missing,” he said.
Comm Mohd Bakri said there were mechanisms, such as the NUR (National Urgent Response) alert for children below 12 who went missing, but members of society, especially family, should play their part as well.
“It is of the utmost importance that a missing person's report be lodged as fast as possible as it will assist us in mobilising our resources quickly,” he said.
Every child and teenager aged 18 and below who goes missing and are located will be sent for counselling with the Welfare Department.
Those who are abducted would undergo therapy to recover from their trauma, said department director-general Datuk Norani Mohd Hashim.
“The children will be given counselling until they can adapt themselves back into society without worry.”