Missing, exploited kids focus of local workshop

Posted: November 5, 2012

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Carlina White was 19 days old when she was abducted from Harlem Hospital Center in 1987 by the woman who would raise her as her own child.

Though she did not remember her biological parents, as White grew older she became suspicious about her background.

At age 23, after having lived virtually all of her life as Nejdra “Netty” Nance, she found images that resembled her childhood photos, and those of the daughter to whom she had given birth, on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) website.

She called the center’s hotline, and the resulting investigation and DNA testing determined that she was really Carlina White. She was reunited with her family, and her abductor was imprisoned.

White’s story was turned into the Lifetime Television film “Abducted: The Carlina White Story.” It also was recounted Friday for a small group of area residents at Our Health’s Eagles Community Conference Center.

Sheryl Stokes and Shannon Traore, NCMEC family services liaisons, conducted a seminar for about 50 child-service providers and law-enforcement officials during the day Friday and stayed to present the first of six workshops for area parents and professionals.

The events are sponsored by Northwestern Community Services and Healthy Families Northern Shenandoah Valley.

NCMEC provides numerous services to law enforcement and other agencies involved in solving cases of missing children, exploited children and child sex trafficking. Its reach is international, since the organization works on child sexual tourism cases, too.

But the organization also helps families in a variety of ways, including education and support throughout and after a search for a missing child. Once reunited, families often need help in adjusting to post-incident life.

Sometimes children don’t want to leave their abductors — especially in family abduction cases — because they have established lives elsewhere.

“Children leave their lives behind when they’re kidnapped,” Traore said, “and then they have to leave their lives again.”

Stokes said some parents make a painful decision and allow their children to stay where they’re living, with the goal of establishing a long-term, long-distance relationship.

The presentation included the taped recollections of a boy abducted by his father at the age of 10. He spoke of the difficulty of readjustment when he was returned home — eight months after his abduction.

Traore said many child family abductions are intended primarily to hurt the spouse.

The women also discussed the dangers of online sexual solicitation, which they said occurs to about 20 percent of children who are active on the Internet.

Stokes said the center’s hotline — 1-800-THELOST — handles an average of 580 calls each day. Since its inception, more than 2 million calls have been taken.

The center also collects data on attempted child abductions and indecent-exposure cases.

Children should be taught to fight abductors, the women said, because most attempted abductions fail due to resistance by the child.

missingkids.com

NetSmartz.org

— Contact Vic Bradshaw atvbradshaw@winchesterstar.com