For Jamie-Lynn Cramero, pictures of her daughter is all she has right now. “Come home or call,” she cries. “I just want her to be safe and come home.”
Fourteen year old Athena Romo was last seen last Monday night. According to Mom, this isn’t the first time her daughter has gone missing. But it’s the first time, she has been gone this long. “I was told by police that because she has a history of running away, she is low on the priority list.”
Cramero admits her daughter has had problems. She said they just started in the past year. “She used to be the sweetest girl ever. Very caring, heart of gold,” Cramera said.
Cramero said problems started when her daughter entered Grade nine and was being bullied.“”She had books thrown at her. She was slammed into lockers. I think that was the turning point for her.”
Cramero went to the school to seek help. She said her daughter started to see a school councillor weekly, but the bullying continued and that’s when Romo started to hang with the wrong crowd and get involved in drugs.
That is when Cramero tried to find more help for her daughter- treatment for a substance abuse problem and mental health. But it was not that easy. “She refused any kind of treatment because she felt like she didn’t have an issue…her father and I weren’t able to bring her somewhere to get her the help she needed,” Cramero said.
BELOW: A mother’s emotional appeal for her daughter to come home
In the province of Ontario, virtually all treatment centers are voluntary, even for children. If your child is 12 and over, he or she can decide whether or not to accept treatment.
Cramero says the system is failing her and Dennis Long, Executive Director of Breakaway Addiction Services in Toronto said she might be right. Long said it’s not just about voluntary treatment, it’s about the lack of it.
“Unfortunatley in this province, for people in that age range, we don’t really have a lot of resources and they will wait an extended period of time,” said Long.
As far as a “priority list” among Toronto’s missing people cases, Detective Spencer McDonald with the Family Services Unit at 11 Division says that is not accurate “especially (for) someone who is 14 years of age, we treat them all seriously.”
But with past cases of Romo running away, McDonald says they don’t suspect foul play.
“It’s our belief that she is out in the community somewhere and we believe that is the case right now. She’s out there and somebody probably knows where she is,” said Romo.
Cramero said her daughter ran away from a transitional home. She said they had gotten into a fight and she called the police on her daughter but Cramero said she left the transitional home the same day she arrived.
“It makes me look at all the missing children and makes me wonder why they went missing and what the parents tried to do for them,” she said.
Now, her focus is on finding her own daughter and bringing her home.