Casting Shadows

by Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

As I was reading in our den, I could hear the soft murmur of the TV coming from another room. A few seconds later my wife entered the room. She looked saddened and before I could ask what was going on she said, “They found that little boy, the autistic boy who ran away last month. They said the police found his remains; they mentioned body parts.” She sighed and asked, “That means someone took him, doesn’t it?”  The boy was missing for over 3 months and his body was found at a distant location from his home. With our involvement in the foundation, knowing how children can disappear, it was an easy conclusion to draw given the set of particulars-a handicapped child, roaming the streets of a borough of New York City, no money, no jacket, lost and possibly finding it difficult to communicate his plight to strangers. As time passed and more information came out,  the remains were definitively determined to be those of Avonte  Oquendo, the 13-year old autistic child who had walked out of his school and been missing since October 4, 2013. And this is all that is known. The tragedy strikes the hearts and minds of everyone. At least, I hope that is true.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program (OJJDP) prepared the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway (NISMART) children. The 2002 publication of the study present the following information:

A runaway episode is one that meets any one of the following criteria:

  • A child leaves home without permission and stays away overnight.
  • A child 14 years old or younger (or older and mentally incompetent) who is away from home chooses not to come home when expected to and stays away overnight.
  • A child 15 years old or older who is away from home chooses not to come home and stays away two nights.

A thrownaway episode is one that meets either of the following criteria:

  • A child is asked or told to leave home by a parent or other household adult, no adequate alternative care is arranged for the child by a household adult, and the child is out of the household overnight.
  • A child who is away from home is prevented from returning home by a parent or other household adult, no adequate alternative care is arranged for the child by a household adult, and the child is out of the household overnight.

Analyzing the data, the study concludes

  • In 1999, an estimated 1,682,900 youth had a runaway/ thrownaway episode. Of these youth, 37 percent were missing from their caretakers and 21 percent were reported to authorities for purposes of locating them.
  • Of the total runaway/thrownaway youth, an estimated 1,190,900 (71 percent) could have been endangered during their runaway/thrownaway episode by virtue of factors such as substance dependency, use of hard drugs, sexual or physical abuse, presence in a place where criminal activity was occurring, or extremely young age (13 years old or younger).
  • Youth ages 15–17 made up two-thirds of the youth with runaway/thrownaway episodes during the study year.
  • There is suggestive evidence that the runaway problem may have been smaller in 1999 than it was in 1988.

The numbers themselves are dry, simple nouns.  Add just a bit of what you know about abduction and exploitation and far too many of them in this report are chilling: 71%, drugs, abuse, criminal activity, all red flags.

Why bring up this data? Let’s never forget the endgame of the abductors we are trying to thwart. We are dealing with a group of individuals who wish to satisfy their particular desires. They need a supply of victims to attain their goal. Whether these victims are coaxed or coerced into this world of criminality, the end result of degradation and the potential for death are too real to ignore.

The SuperBowl takes place February 2nd in New Jersey. Read the newspapers, listen to the radio or TV and you learn of all the hoopla , overkill and excess that surrounds the game, how it is a financial boon to all aligned businesses.

Cindy McCain, wife of US Senator John McCain of Arizona, is in the forefront of efforts to combat human trafficking, said this in relation to the upcoming 2015 SuperBowl set for her home state: (The SuperBowl)…will be the largest human trafficking venue on the planet.

Bradley Myles, CEO of the Polaris Project, a non-profit working to combat sex trafficking, notes…the overall size of the phenomenon in the US is much more significant than statistics show.

Danielle Douglas, who says she is a sex trafficking survivor, says visitors are coming to the SuperBowl to have sex with women, and/or men or children.

I wonder how many of the missing, abducted, runaway and thrownaway children are or have been part of this dark underside of the game. Where do you think abducted children wind up?

February 1st marks the tenth anniversary of Carlie’s death. The world has gone on. There has been healing to close the wounds of her passing. She didn’t live to fulfill her dreams. From some English course I took many years ago, I remember the professor exhorting us with a line-something about measuring the greatness of your soul by the shadow it casts. Carlie’s shadow falls on us even today.

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation
Founded by Matthew J. Barbis after his 11-year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, was abducted and murdered in Sarasota, FL in 2004. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation’s goal is to reduce the number of child abductions in the U.S. by educating and empowering young minds with the knowledge necessary to avoid abduction. Utilizing puppets and a formalized educational curriculum, the foundation provides elementary-aged children with the Stranger Safety Awareness Program, free of charge. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

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