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Helpless, weak, naive: this is the reason why children are the category we try to protect the most. Fight against paedophilia, education reforms, and life conditions in which humanity’s “future” is constrained by the adults are always topical. But only a few people know that in Europe thousands of children disappear every year. The last case – fortunately with a happy end – that of the little girl who disappeared in Teramo, has brought attention to this topic again. Only in Italy, 15.117  children went missing over the past 40 years. Besides, their number could be much higher, considering that we are unable to calculate how many Roma children disappear. The statistic numbers, alarming and tragic, were made known by the special commissioner of the Government for missing people of the Ministry of the Interior, Vittorio Piscitelli. A slap in the face of those who believe they are safe and able to control everything.

Where do they end up? We cannot know it for certain, an answer that sends shivers down your spine. Probably they fall prey to the bogeymen, unscrupulous adults who only take advantage of their innocence, with violence, abuse and even organ trafficking.

A small army, that has disappeared without leaving a trace. This army alone represents 51.7% of the total number of people who have disappeared or have been kidnapped. Most of them are foreign children, approximately 13,489 compared to  the 1,628 Italian. It is easy to think, emphasizes Piscitelli, that the reason of this prevalence is that “when they arrive in Italy on boats, often they are not attended and, therefore, more vulnerable”.

With these data at hand, you may think that mobilization to oppose this phenomenon is total, but it is not. “116.000, the European phone number for missing children – currently open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – is likely to close because of the cuts of the European Commission”, complaint Ernesto Caffo, the president of Telefono Azzurro, who emphasizes that in Europe every year disappear 270,000 children, “that is to say, one every two minutes”.  Experts point out that a timely intervention to limit the phenomenon is not only morally right, but even needed. Mariacarla Bocchino, director of the SCO (Central Operating Service of the State police) says that “search conducted in the immediate future has a success rate of at least 85%, while search delayed even a few hours may not give any results at all”.

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the Vatican responsible for Social Sciences, has been rough on this matter: “With the globalisation of indifference, motivated only by profit, children are victimised”. A sample of horror stories: “Organ trade, forced prostitution and pornography, drug trafficking, begging, forced cross-border irregular adoptions, forced marriages, recruitment of child-soldiers, slavery in terrorist groups and forced labour”. To cope with this tragedy, says Sorondo, “good economic and environmental policies are needed, as well quality and widespread education”.

But disappearances continue. And children become victims in the adults’ traps, whether the latter are moved by mental illness or by logic of profit, because it is easier to be strong when in front of you there is someone who cannot defend him(her)self.

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