4-Year-Old Goes Missing From Home in Philadelphia, Police Seek Public Help

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
June 15, 2019 Updated: June 15, 2019

A 4-year-old went missing from his home in Philadelphia on June 14 and the police are seeking public help to find him.

Philadelphia Police Department said in a message on Twitter that 4-year-old Juan Benacio was last seen at 2:00 p.m. on Friday at his home at 6700 Castor Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia.

“Missing Child Juan Benacio. 4 years old, 4’1″ 60 lbs. Last seen 6/14/19 at approximately 2:00 p.m. at his home at 6700 Castor Ave. The child was last wearing a blue shirt and brown pants,” Police said in the Tweet.

ABC6 reports that the child lives with his father and both of them recently migrated from Guatemala.

“Please call North East Detectives at 215-686-3153 with info,” police said.

Link to Trafficking

While most missing persons are found, runaway children are vulnerable to exploitation, particularly sex trafficking.

“Traffickers, as well as buyers, strategically prey upon runaway children because of their mental, physical, and financial vulnerability,” according to the 2009 National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: America’s Prostituted Children (pdf).

“The stark reality is that the supply is never-ending … I mean, that little girl who started as a runaway on the streets in Washington state and ended up on the streets of Miami Beach as a prostitute is way too typical,” said Andrew Oosterbaan, then-chief of the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, according to the report. “There is an endless supply—and it is almost surreal to have these words leave my mouth—endless supply of victims. But that’s the stark reality.”

“The victims view running away as a way to escape an environment that they cannot control,” the report said. “It is not a coincidence that the average age of a runaway falls squarely within the age range a child is recruited into prostitution, as the victimized child who flees from home often lands straight in the welcoming arms of a trafficker posing as protector and caretaker.”

The most at-risk group are runaways from the social services system, such as foster care, group homes, or government facilities, Lowery said.

Petr Svab contributed to this report.

Follow Venus on Twitter: @venusupadhayaya