Teenager who died of starvation in 2013 could have been saved: "School could have stopped what happened"

Teenager who died of starvation in 2013 could have been saved: "School could have stopped what happened"

"That child endured incredible suffering while no systems were there to assist him," Judge Sharon Van de Veen stated.

Cover Image Source: YouTube/National Post

Trigger warning: The following article contains mentions of child abuse and neglect, which may be distressing for some readers.

In 2013, 15-year-old Alexandru Radita passed away in his Calgary home. He weighed barely 37 pounds at the time. His cause of death was later revealed to be bacterial sepsis, the result of malnutrition and uncontrolled diabetes. In 2017, four years after his death, his parents, Emil and Rodica Radita, were found guilty of first-degree murder, after it was established that they purposefully starved their child and withheld medical aid. The couple was given a life-term in prison. 

A fatality inquiry has since been established, with hearings to determine how social welfare and government agencies could have contributed to preventing a death such as this one. As witnesses testified that improved communication between government agencies, the home-schooling system came under fire at the trial, per Calgary Herald.



There have been accusations made against Alberta's home-schooling program during the probe which started earlier this week. According to sources, Radita was enrolled in the home-schooling system in 2009 as a fifth-grade student. But he reportedly never turned in any work that year, and as a result, the online school School of Hope canceled his admission. It was strange that he was never enrolled in any school program after that.

Earlier, it was reported that the teenager's parents forced him to live in "purposeful isolation" so he would not have contact with anyone who might have intervened, like a doctor or teacher. According to CBC, Crown prosecutor Susan Pepper said, "He had no friends or teachers or support people or doctors, or really anyone.” 



Christine Bouchard, the field services manager for Alberta Education, said during the hearing that a new automated system had been added that determines whether pupils are registered in a school or not. If registration had not taken place, the system also alerts school boards. However, according to Bouchard, this system was not in existence in 2009, Calgary Herald reported. She said, "The education system also currently places trust in parents to make the right decisions for their children’s education.” She added, “We work together to try to ensure that students are registered somewhere. It’s a system built on faith that the parents are going to do the right thing with their children.”

Provincial court Judge Sharon Van de Veen stated, "In Radita's case, it was only the school that could have stopped what happened to him. When a child is not attending school for the entire year, someone should be checking up on that. In this case, that child endured incredible suffering while no systems were there to assist him. How (can we) avoid something like that from happening again?”



Judge Van de Veen continued, “I think that there are probably, unfortunately, children in the same situation as Alex Radita. It would be naive to think there are no other children who are being isolated by their parents so those parents can abuse and/or neglect them,” she said, adding, “As good as our system is, it should be better. That should not happen. If this case could lead to anything, it would be a meaningful discussion about how to fix things and how to make change for other children who are living in conditions that may not lead to homicide, but who are suffering.”



At the sentencing of Alex's parents, prosecutor Susan Pepper said the trial had shown how the gaps in their social safety net have led to the teen's death. A lack of communication between government systems such as the education system made the child more vulnerable, per CBC.

Cover Image Source: YouTube/National Post