Going shopping as a child, I remember the corny piped music was regularly interrupted with all sorts of announcements over the loudspeaker – special offers, phone calls for staff members and the inevitable missing children reports.

If a child did wander off to the lolly aisle, parents could be assured that the store manager would share a detailed description of the missing child over the announcement system, so other shoppers could look out for the straying kid.

However, you may have noticed that these days, public alerts don’t happen any longer. When my 4-year-old son wandered off while we were shopping in Kmart a few months ago, I got the fright of my life. Thank goodness my husband was with me so we split up and he eventually found my little boy calmly checking out the birthday paraphernalia. I was just about to approach the staff in desperation to ask them to make a shop announcement, but little did I know that my request would have been refused.

Missing Child Announcements Are Banned

As reported in 7News, a Sydney mum has shared her disappointment that missing children announcements are no longer permitted after her child got lost at Kmart.

Mum Amy posted about her experience on a local Facebook group saying: “My mum and dad took my three-year-old son to Kmart today and my son decided to hide.

“He was missing for 15 minutes.

“My dad stayed at the front entrance to catch him on the way out if he tried to leave.

“They asked to make an announcement and they were refused saying they couldn’t due to [a] child protection issue.

“What else could be done in this situation to help find a lost or hiding child in a store?”

The post received many comments, with lots of mums expressing their surprise in this change of policy.

One said: “I would of freaked … if they can’t call it out where was the help.”

Child Protection

But another mum, who happened to work in a shop explained the new policy:

“I work in a retail store and when we have a missing child, we call all available staff to the front and let them know the situation and then go looking for the child,” she said.

“We’re not allowed to announce that there’s a missing child anymore.

“[It’s] because of Child Protection Policies.

“We used to announce what the child was wearing, but now we’re not allowed to even mention there’s a child missing.”

Many commenters were supportive of this new policy:

“I don’t see a problem with their new “rule” Better they speak to staff quietly to get it sorted, than announcing over the loudspeaker that a child is missing and alerting possible predators that they can snatch and grab a small child.”

Do you agree with this change of rule? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • I have never been in this situation, but can only hope that every place that this has been enacted, the staff are extremely well trained for locating the child quickly! CCTV should be making this easier these days.

    Reply

  • I agree this is a great idea but they should let the parents know how they go about looking for the missing child.

    Reply

  • I can see why they do this, and I think ultimately its keeping the kids safe, and thats the most important thing

    Reply

  • It’s sad that it has to be like this but necessary. I see both sides of view.

    Reply

  • I too can see both points of view.

    Reply

  • I don’t agree with this policy. The first 30 minutes is vital in finding a child. That’s why we have Amber alerts detailing what they wear etc. I don’t see the predatory point of this. Better to have a hundred people searching against the possibility of one predator.

    Reply

  • I like the new policy as long as the staff are helpful and do all go and look for the child.

    Reply

  • I support it as if there is someone in the store that has less than honorable intentions it makes it easy for them to grab and go. If the store pulls staff in to look that’s probably more effective anyway

    Reply

  • Perhaps they could do something else – like have a code that lets the staff members know that there is a missing child so that they can keep on eye out for the child or help search.

    Reply

  • I wonder how many cases they have had where a child has been picked up by a predator after an announcement? Seems to me that maybe they are getting a bit too paranoid. Only way to avoid this is never be distracted enough to not know where your kids are at all times, teach them to hold on to you or the shopping trolley at all times.

    Reply

  • I think they should still use announcements. If there is a predator, they are going to see a child alone anyway. If it was announced and they started looking, it would be very obvious as the whole store would be aware. I think it would make grabbing a kid harder knowing the whole store is looking for them. If a predator had the kid, he’d be stopped quickly. Hopefully. I’m not sure if there have been kidnaps though.


    • I agree with your comments, they could still make an announcement and more people would have their eyes out to hopefully protect the child.

    Reply

  • I work in retail on SA and we still do the announcements, usually the child is in distress (as well as the parents) and it’s the safest way to get the situations resolved as quickly as possible.

    Reply

  • I actually think this is a good thing unfortunately in this day and age you just don’t know who’s in the store. As long as all team members working are aware and the look of im sure the child will be found quickly and safely

    Reply

  • I can see both points of view.

    Reply

  • Oh!this takes me back…. my sister was a wanderer in malls. Three times probably mum used the security with their intercom. My sister would just go quick and unexpectedly.
    But yes I can see the cons in those who ruin it by being child predators. Taking advantage of such a message over speaker.

    Reply

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