Missing girl’s parents frustrated

The Southland Times 07 August 2008

An Invercargill couple are questioning their rights as parents after their 14-year-old daughter ran away three months ago. Compounding the concern of John and Christine Savage for the safety of their daughter Janelle is the frustration that despite vaguely knowing her whereabouts, they say a lack of legal teeth means they cannot bring her home. …Mr Savage said he believed his daughter was staying with a former Invercargill woman in Christchurch, who had “lured” Janelle away. Because she appeared to have gone willingly, there was little police could do. “I’d class it as kidnapping but the police don’t class it as that,” he said. “Janelle wants to be where she is.” The Southland Girls’ High pupil had since been excluded from the school for exceeding 21 days absent and could not be tracked by truancy services, he said.

The officer handling the missing person’s file for Janelle, Senior Constable Keith Olds, of Christchurch, said police could act but lacked concrete leads as to her whereabouts. Mr Savage said Janelle’s latest disappearance was one of several but in the other cases police had contacted him because she had been involved in various offences and he had been able to go to Christchurch to collect her. Mrs Savage said police could do more. “I think its wrong. We’ve told the police roughly where she is. Why can’t they do anything?” However, Senior sergeant Dave Raynes, of Invercargill, said police did have the power to act under the Children and Young Persons Act but were hampered in this case as Janelle had not been located.

Family First NZ director Bob McCoskrie said he also believed police could do more. “The role of parents and the right of parents to know where their children are is being undermined by privacy legislation and the so-called rights of the children.” If a child was not from a dysfunctional home where he or she was unsafe or where the family did not care then parents should have rights of access to the child, he said.