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News Just In From Italy: 10 year old American Boy Has Disappeared on a Visit with His Parents to the Vatican Museum

News Just In From Italy: 10 year old American Boy Has Disappeared on a Visit with His Parents to the Vatican Museum

Old Apr 21st, 2008, 03:38 PM
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Yeah, JeanneB, I'm thinking along those same lines! It would seem, would it not, that a 10 year old would not WANT to move away from his parents, so quickly, so far, not, obviously in a strange city, but in a foreign country where they do not speak his language-and off by bus, no less-most strange!
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:01 PM
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It's obvious that none of you are 10 year old boys! They are invincible..at least in their own minds. Girls have a lot more sense. Sorry, guys!
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:13 PM
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Avalon-I was raised in a family of all boys-and we still have mostly boys (but girls too, now!) so I am very familiar with boys of that age. And I STILL can't imagine, even remembering how my little brother was always running off-as a young child, still can't see a boy of 10 getting on a foreign bus and going somewhere in the middle of a foreign city, he knew not where-not that young. Now, moving away from the crowds in the Vatican? Going outside, maybe wandering around the Piazza, which is of course very large, looking in the museum gift shops, etc.? Yes, I can see a 10 year old doing that easily, simply because he was bored and wanted to get away. It's the bus part to the Via Veneto, that I can't quite grasp, as the Italian reporters themselves obviously couldn't quite grasp, either!
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:21 PM
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The impression I got from the latest Repubblica article is that the parents lost the child at some point, and when he realized he was lost, he asked directions to the embassy. So maybe the first person he asked told him to get on the bus and get off at Piazza Barberini (which lots of buses go to), and then he walked a short distance to the embassy. Just my guess. So maybe he didn't flee after all, but merely implemented a reunion strategy.

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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:24 PM
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Well, my last speculation is probably wrong, based on this article. I guess, as stated above, maybe he did just get bored and decide to board a bus.

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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:27 PM
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Sounds like he got bored and wandered off.

Think how many kids - many much younger than this - go temporarily missing in malls all the time. Don;t see why a bright 10 year old couldn't get from the Vatican to the Via Veneto.

But - if I were those parents I would be keeping more of a watch - it's not like he's in the backyard or over playing at the local school.
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:56 PM
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NyTraveler-the boy didn't KNOW he was going to the Via Veneto, he just got off the bus near there, perchance-and wandered onto the Via Veneto-that's why the Italian reporters thought that was so odd, of all the streets he could have wandered along, the article said, he managed to get himself onto the Via Veneto where the Embassy is located. I simply cannot see a 10 year old boarding a bus to get away in a foreign country like that-not that young-very very odd.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 12:15 AM
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I agree something is not right with that story. Unless the boy had been in Rome for a while and knew his way around it is unlikely in my opinion. If he was so sharp he should have asked an employee at the Vatican for help and not jump on a bus. I wouldn't be proud of him at all.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 01:13 AM
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This posting reminded me of when my then 11 yr. old son got lost at the Vatican 5 years ago. One thing I realized is that when child is lost, they sometimes don't think logically. For those interested in my story, our family was attending a papal audience. We stayed for the entire audience (over 2 hours) and we were feeling very excited about the experience. At the end of it, my son shouted "I am so excited I want to go to St. Peter's" and takes off. I shout for him to stop but my husband says not to worry that he has our son in his sight. Since it is very crowded, I am holding on to my then 7 yr. old with my husband about 5 feet ahead of me and my "son" 5 feet ahead of my husband. I keep on telling my son to stop, but husband says not to worry he has my son in sight.

We get to the x-ray screening machines line and my husband is behind my "son" and the kid turns around and it is not my son. Great, last time I rely on hubby. When I catch up, my husband says he made a mistake and now we don't know where my son. Husband is convinced son went into the church, I disagree and say its not like him to go that far away from us. But husband demands we go into the church. Of course son is no where to be found. At this point husband is worthless for finding him, so I take charge. I tell him to wait inside the church at the entrance with our daughter. I exit and go back to the papal auditorium. I tell every policeman and security person about my son. They ask for a description but seem not too concerned. I just rewalk the area, go back to church, auditorium and square. Now it has been an hour so I then demand more police action. Police say to walk to the station. As I am standing on the steps of St. Peter's, I look out at the square and my son is being held up on the shoulders of the Italian Police above the crowd in the middle of the square. He is above the crowd trying to spot us. Since he is a bit of a distrance away from us, I run and keep on calling his name. I will always remember his face-he brought into the biggest crying spell I have ever seen and grabbed me and fell into my arms. The Italian police were laughing telling him "see we told you your mother wouldn't leave Italy without you." The police did not check my id, but simply waved to me and I told them thank you.

My son told me that he knew instantly he was lost after exiting the papal auditorium. He turned around and could not see us. He then went to the Swiss Guards and tried to tell then he was lost but language was an issue. They walk him over to the Italian police station at the Vatican. Now my practice when I travel with my kids is to put a card in their pockets with relevant info such as our name, address etc, and the hotel where we are staying at and the procdure our family follows if lost. Since my son had switched his shorts to long pants for our audience, he forgot to to switch the card and I forgot to ask. He completely blanked on his info other than his first name. He told me that he was convinced we were going to leave Italy without him and he kept on throwing himself on the floor at the police station. (poor kid). Since he was inside the police station and I was outside looking for him, we never saw each other. My son said the police never received any of the reports I was making while looking for him.

I am glad that the police decided to hoist him above the crowd for I was at the point that I was beginning to panic-he was lost for an hour and a half. My son told me he was so sorry for not listening to my instruction to stay with us and for taking off-needless to say he clung to e the rest of the trip. The only "funny" thing about it was right after he stopped crying he shouted "I need to go to confession."

This was before our cell phones being able to be used in Europe. Now everyone has a cell phone and I have parent chaperone on my kids' phones so I can located them. Plus we go over "lost" procedures more. The other lesson I learned is that if your child is lost, you really need to get in the police's face
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 01:33 AM
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A ten yr old is old enough to know not to wander away from parents, bored or not.
Normal parents explain to their children" we are going into a crowded place is a foriegn country , do not wander away from me or I will hold your hand(dire threat to a big boy of ten) .

I am sorry but I would not be "proud" of my son for wandering away especially because of boredom, I would be angry. On the other hand I really keep an eye on my kids, and when I take my 12 yr old daughter to Europe this summer I plan on being right beside her body and possibly even holding her hands at we board trains or are in crowded areas. Luckily for me she actually likes holding hands so will not be offended like a boy might be.

I am glad the child was found, and thank goodness he was found by the right people.

Itsv,, that must have been terrifying for you, glad it turned out so well, and I bet your son never wandered off again. LOL PS. Kick hubby for me. LOL

Girlspytravel, amazing how people managed to travel with kids before cell phones.

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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 02:35 AM
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Children do not think like adults, do not assume that just because you wouldn't do something a child also wouldn't do it. They don't see danger in the same way, can't see danger in the same way, even at 10 years old.
You all seem to assume it is something more than a little boy getting bored and looking for some fun. Maybe he was daydreaming and lost the group. If the parents went to the Vatican by bus he may have decided the best thing to do was get the bus back to the hotel. He wouldn't know there was more than one bus line. No way of knowing how a child's mind works.
If he really had been abducted he would not have been found so quickly. Maybe the bus driver, or some other kind person, realised this boy was lost and helped him get to the US embassy?
I am glad he was found safely.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 04:01 AM
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Some of the discussion in this thread angers me.

Jocose references to Maddy and to priests are distasteful, especially as they were made before the boy was found.

Now we have the emergence of conspiracy theories, and it won't be long until we have a pack of the self-righteous baying for the parents' blood.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 04:15 AM
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"and it won't be long until we have a pack of the self-righteous baying for the parents' blood"

Yeah, you got that right. People tend to forget that we are ALL human and nobody is perfect 100% of the time. People can get temporarily distracted or make an error in judgement etc. Today people have gotten so judgemental in this area.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 04:59 AM
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It's not hard to get separated in a crowd. I'm sure we all remember a time when we got 'lost' as kids, and most of us have had a few heartstopping minutes when our kid seems to have disappeared. Usually you spot them again very quickly.

I wouldn't be so judgemental on the parents. A 10 year old is not a toddler you need to hang on to the whole time (and indeed shouldn't be treated that way). Yet it is still easy to be separated by just a few people and lose sight - for some reason this kid wandered off instead of staying still and waiting for parents to find him, which is what most parents teach their kids. Sounds like he had a bad case of the 10-year olds!

Alls well that ends well.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 05:08 AM
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Spygirl, "everyone is part of a group when they visit the Vatican" ? I never have been, apart from when I did the excavations tour. The Basilica & the Museums I've just visited as an individual or with DH.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 07:45 AM
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Look I have kids, , and I asked my 11 yr old daughter( she will be 12 this year) if she got lost or seperated from me in a busy place would she LEAVE the building and get on a bus,, and she looked at me like I was crazy,, " mom don't be ridiculus no one would do that" .. um, I rest my case. Boy behaved a bit oddly. I also give kids more credit not less,, most kids by 10 are old enough to make a decent judgemant call, and that would not include getting on a bus in a foreign country, I mean you can sputter all you want, that is just plain odd.

BTW As someone brought up the boyscout that wandered away, it should be noted that the boy scout had a disability that would alter his reaasoning, I believe he had Aspergers Syndrome, which would explain his behaviour. There is always a possibility this child also had a neurological or behavioural explanation for his apparent lack of good judgement. Parents are not nessesarily going to point that out right away for various reasons.

Of course I am glad alls wel that ended well, and I will tell my daughter if she gets seperated from me not to leave the building and get on a bus,, LOL
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 09:32 AM
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Even when I travel with other adults we make a designated meeting place if we get separated and it wouldn't include taking a bus to another part of town. Maybe by a fountain or a certain pillar nearby.

But this is a good wakeup call for parents traveling with their kids to read about.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 10:08 AM
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I hate to say it - but boys are often much younger than girls of the same age. I remember when my brother was 9 or 10 and he did a couple of the most ridiculous things you can imagine - including "hiding" behind the refreshment stand at Jones Beach on the 4th of July Weekend. (He was bored with waiting on line and decided to try hide and seek. It took 3 of us about 15 minutes to find him.)

Also, kids from different backgrounds can react differently. A kid from a big city, used to dealing with public transit, may react quite differently from one who isn't familiar with cities, buses and subways.

In Paris we let my 2 step daughters (11 and 14, but city kids and both with basic French) go off shopping by themselves. But -we knew they could navigate NYC - so Paris wasn't a problem. But a street wise 14 year old girl is whole lot different from a sheltered 10 year old boy.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 10:15 AM
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There was a case a few years ago of a 13-year-old boy from a farming community (about 50 miles from me) who went with his uncle to London. He got separated somewhere around Piccadilly Circus, and instead of talking to anyone and getting help, went to a park somewhere nearby and hung out there for 24 hours, and was found watching a football game.

Of course, kids have managed to travel without cellphones, but if this boy had one, it would have been way less stressful for the parents, who probably feel like they've aged 10 years. Of course, it's always possible he could lose it, have it turned off, etc. but it would still help generally. And if he had been carrying a card with the hotel information, his parents' information, etc. that would help too. Even if he had known how to go to a telephone and make a collect call to his grandparents, think how that could have helped.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 10:43 AM
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Give 10 year-olds some credit (boys and girls). They're not small children. As a first born, I had plenty of independence by that age. I'm from a medium-size city and was taught to take the bus alone by the age of seven. At 10, my class had to do little research papers and every Saturday I'd catch the bus downtown to the huge main library. My orders were to be home before dark.

This kid didn't do anything I couldn't have at that age. Plus, the foreign issue is less daunting a child because they don't know all the possible things to fear that parents do.

If he'd been lost for a week, this kid would have turned up speaking Italian fluently.
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