Do you recall those loveable thieves from Oliver, singing and dancing their way through city streets, decrepit buildings and pubs and eventually people's pockets? Sometimes that's the idea we have when we think of little children getting their sticky fingers in petty crime. Going down a bad road, but they're just ever-so-sweet!
This week, Manchester law enforcement uncovered 15 Romanian children thought to be used for pretty crime in 4 row-housing units. The children have been taken into protective custody.
This one hits pretty close to home for me. Anybody who knows me well knows my heart for the country of Romania. I've been there 3 times (2 weeks, 3 months, then another 2 weeks) and I hope to go back again at some point. I've seen the sewer children, the street children, the beggar children, the Roma children (both urban and rural), and the abandoned children left in hospitals. I've met happy, healthy children living in loving homes, no matter the socio-economic status and spent time hearing their stories. They are beautiful and amazing, just as all children are. But make no mistake about it: any child coerced and forced into doing something terrorizing will act like no apple-cheeked urchin. They will not sing and dance for you (unless that's their ploy to distract you), they don't always look cute, they don't always charm you and they most certainly don't keep you standing for an encore.
I pray these 15 from Romania will find their families again and that support will be available for these children to integrate back into their former lives. If their former lives were the streets or the seweres, I pray homes will be found for them — vibrant, loving homes where true healing can take place and not institutionalization.
And for the ones who stole them: I pity whatever has happened in your past life to drive you to child trafficking. But justice will be served. Children are not your merchandise to be bought and sold at whim.
Check it out: BBC NEWS: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/8373952.stm