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WTF Wednesday: Teen who died had been recommended for permanent removal from parents

Simon Treanor

Rodica and Emil Radita were arrested in Calgary on Tuesday morning on charges of first degree murder of their 15-year-old son. Alex Radita died in May 2013 under what police say were “suspicious circumstances.” His official cause of death is listed as a bacterial infection that arose from “complications of neglect and starvation.” Alex was found by police in diapers and unable to leave his bed, allegedly due to his parent’s neglect and terrible mismanagement of his Type 1 diabetes. Rodica and Emil have both said they did not believe their son had diabetes, blaming previous experiences with authorities in Romania, their home country.

What makes this story all the more tragic is that Alex’s death could have been easily avoided. Child Services in B.C., where the family had previously lived, had recorded instances of Rodica and Emil’s failure to understand Alex’s diabetes—arguably information that could have saved Alex’s life if  given to Alberta Child Services.

When Alex was two years old, he was taken to Surrey Memorial hospital in B.C. with ketoacidosis—a complication from untreated diabetes. It was here that the Radita’s were first made aware of their son’s disease, as well as instructed on how to manage it properly. Yet, a few years later Alex was admitted to the intensive care unit at the hospital, this time for extreme malnourishment and loss of hair.

It was at this point that the child services in B.C. stepped in and placed Alex in provincial care away from his parents for just over a year. It was recommended that Alex be permanently removed from his parents in December 2004, but was denied by B.C. Judge J.G Cohen, who felt the application was made “without making any reasonable effort to maintain this large and otherwise well-parented family,” referring to a report that stated Alex’s seven other siblings were well looked after, attending school, and well-behaved.

In 2005 Alex was returned to his family, and they eventually moved to Alberta, where Alex died nearly a decade later.

The incident has sparked serious questions about how social services share information between provinces, not least due to the similarities in the cases between Alex and Jeffrey Baldwin, who died from neglect and starvation in 2002 at age 5. The jury for the inquest into the death of Jeffrey started last September and ended last week with 103 recommendations for improvements to the child protection services, with the top recommendation “to merge the province’s children’s aid societies into one central agency.”

Such a move would mean that all provinces would have access to information about potential dangerous parents and carers, and would, hopefully, stop such sad cases from happening again.

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