By Suzanne Manneh, New America Media
LOS ANGELES - More than 800,000 children go missing each year in the United States, reports El Mensajero. This is more than 2,000 a day, or one child every 40 seconds.
The California Department of Justice 2009 Missing Children Report finds that California has a high rate of reported missing youth, with a total of 105,171.
While Los Angeles had the highest number in California at 23,064, many Bay Area counties had high numbers as well for 2009.
Alameda County reported 3,800 missing kids; Contra Costa County accounted for 2,438; San Francisco had 1,782; San Mateo County had 1,338 and Santa Clara County had 5,974.
According to a study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) on the numbers from 2009, Latinos make up 235,000, or 20 percent, of the missing youth.
But the organization believes that only 70 percent of all missing children cases are actually reported, largely because parents or guardians fear being prosecuted.
"As soon as the child disappears, it is important that the family call the police and report and communicate with us to be provided the necessary services," said Alex Davila of the NCMEC.
His organization operates a 24-hour hotline (1-800-THE-LOST or 1-800-843-5678). Once there is a police report, the case is assigned to an expert who is responsible for working with the family to find the child.