jeudi 2 décembre 2010

Landmark Report By Peter Thomas Senese and Carolyn Vlk Exposes Policy Loophole In International Child Abduction Border-Crossing Prevention

Carolyn Ann Vlk and I worked dilegently in trying to find the answer to the question, How Are Our Children Being Internationally Abducted And Illegally Removed From Our Country?

We believe we have found a significant part of the answer, and on behalf of Carolyn and myself, we urge you to read the titled report: "International Parental Child Abduction and Human Trafficking In The Western Hemisphere".

To download a PDF copy of the report, Please Click Here.

To download a Word copy of the report, Please Click Here.

In advance, thank you for taking the time to read this report - it very well may one day help you protect a defenseless child.

If you believe your child is at risk, it is critical that you prepare your child on what to do if they are taken (Click here to view how to prepare your child).

If you are interested in understanding the terrifying aspects and difficulties associated with international parental child abduction, I invite you to read 'Chasing The Cyclone' (Click here to read the reviews).

To read Chapter 1 of 'Chasing The Cyclone' please Click Here.

For more information on the growig epidemic of international parental child abduction, please Click Here.

For more information on best-selling author Peter Thomas Senese, please Click Here. or to read more about Peter Thomas Senese's books, please Click Here.

For more information on child abduction and child slavery risks associated with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, please Click Here.

To read more essays and articles on international parental child abduction, please Click Here.

Peter Thomas Senese

lundi 29 novembre 2010

Chasing The Cyclone Author Peter Thomas and Florida CAPA Legislation Writer Release Report Uncovering International Abduction Escape Routes

BREAKING NEWS: November 29th, 2010


A landmark study conducted by child abduction prevention advocates Carolyn Ann Vlk and Peter Thomas Senese released earlier today reveals astonishing loopholes in Western Hemisphere travel documentation requirements for children that inadvertently have created substantial opportunities for international child abductors and human traffickers who target thousands of U.S. children each year for cross-border abduction.

The report is titled “International Child Abduction and Human Trafficking In Western Hemisphere: International parental child abduction and human trafficking prevention report in correspondence to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) and other related abduction prevention challenges faced by The United States and its neighboring countries.”
The extensive study focuses in part on the limited ground and sea travel documentation requirements needed for children traveling to contiguous nations as defined by the WHTI, including to the two nations that represent the highest concentration of abduction cases to and from the United States: Mexico and Canada.

According to the 2010 Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspect of International Child Abduction prepared by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, there were 1,621 ‘reported’ international parental child abductions originating from the U.S. during 2009. The average growth rate over the past several years is approximately 20% per year.

Additionally, the number of ‘unreported’ cases of international child abduction to contiguous nations is believed to be substantial and is discussed in Crisis in America: International Parental Child Abduction Today (2010) published by Peter Senese and Carolyn Vlk earlier this Fall. Supporting the concern of the existence of significant ‘unreported’ cases is the most recent National Incidence Study of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2) study, which reports that of the 203,900 children that are estimated to be parentally abducted annually in the U.S., that only 28% (56,500) of these abductions were reported to law enforcement.

The report has two main objectives: the first goal is to raise awareness of the loopholes traffickers and child abductors may utilize to facilitate their criminal acts of child-stealing so that targeted parents of child abduction, the judiciary and its court officers, law enforcement officials, and policymakers may act to protect children from this hideous type of crime. The second objective is to offer potential solutions through preventative measures and legislative changes that may assist in preventing child abduction and human trafficking as it is uniquely related to current WHTI policy.

Peter Thomas, the author of the highly praised novel ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ critics have called a ‘Call-To-Arms’ against child-stealing that was inspired by his experience as a father who successfully petitioned the international Hague courts due to the illegal abduction and retention of his child stated, “The information furnished in our report provides substantial insight on how each year thousands of targeted children of international abduction living in the Western Hemisphere, including a considerable number of defenseless U.S. children-citizens, may be criminally transported across international borders. The loopholes in current government policy that may allow abductors to steal children across international borders are severe. In releasing this comprehensive study and by offering measurable solutions, it is Carolyn Vlk’s and my aspiration to raise awareness so that existing policy may be changed in the name of our children’s best interest.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk added, “International child abduction and human trafficking are urgently critical issues that necessitate an immediate response. As children do not have the ability to protect themselves, we must continue to identify risk factors and loopholes that lead to them becoming victimized. The current situation is intolerable and the sheer numbers of children that are disappearing is unacceptable. These are horrendous crimes which mandate our highest priority and that necessitate legislative changes to take place immediately at the federal level. A mandate requiring a passport for all international travel will create the type of change necessary to further protect the innocent ones from this unconscionable crime.”

For more information and to read International Child Abduction and Human Trafficking In Western Hemisphere please visit the following websites:

vendredi 19 novembre 2010

How Are Our Children Being Stolen Across International Borders?

The more I understand how dangerous a place Mexico is for our nation's children the more puzzled I become over why we do not have more stringent border crossing protocals in place for our children. Mexico has been the location where over 1,000 U.S. child-citizens have been 'reported' to have been abducted to over the past two years. It is believed that substantially more children are abducted, but their kidnapping has not been reported to the U.S. Central Authority.

What I have come to learn is that there are so many legal loopholes that would allow a person intent on abducting a child across international borders the ability to do so despite whatever court orders or government blockades established. And truth is, it is not very difficult to do. Not at all.

In the upcoming report titled 'How Are Our Children Being Stolen?', Carolyn Ann Vlk and I will provide shocking information that answers this question.

For more information on International Parental Child Abduciton, please visit 'Chasing The Cyclone'.

For more information on me, please visit

If you believe your child is at risk, it is critical that you prepare your child on what to do if they are taken (Click here to view how to prepare your child).

If you are interested in understanding the terrifying aspects and difficulties associated with international parental child abduction, I invite you to read 'Chasing The Cyclone' (Click here to read the reviews).

To read Chapter 1 of 'Chasing The Cyclone' please Click Here.

For more information on the growig epidemic of international parental child abduction, please Click Here.

For more information on best-selling author Peter Thomas Senese, please Click Here. or to read more about Peter Thomas Senese's books, please Click Here.

For more information on child abduction and child slavery risks associated with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, please Click Here.

To read more essays and articles on international parental child abduction, please Click Here.

jeudi 11 novembre 2010

When The Laws of Good Parenting and Good Citizenship Rule Out Our First Amendment Rights

The other night I attended the Free The Slaves ‘Freedom Awards’ Ceremony and Gala. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Free The Slaves organization, they are a worldwide non-profit based in Washington, D.C. committed to stopping the horrors known as human slavery, human trafficking, and human abduction.

So here I am sitting behind my big desk in my office at the studio right now, reflecting on how poor judgment the folks at Amazon demonstrated yesterday, and quite frankly for nearly one full week, by selling a Kindle book that was a how to guide on the disgraceful acts of pedophilia.

Having seen the scars related to human trafficking in both adults and children, the fact that Amazon continued to keep this title up throughout the day amidst thousands upon thousands of immediate protest yesterday was perplexing. Was Amazon fighting for the First Amendment or were they hiding behind the First Amendment with smoking-mirror valor for fear that if they removed one book from the site, their morally sound consumers would act as censors.

Personally, I am a adament supporter of our nation's rights as conveyed under the First Amendment. However, the rules of Good Citizenship and particularly Good Parenting far outweigh my perspective on my freedom of speech when it comes to possibly causing any type of danger to a child.

So here's Amazon selling a book on pedophilia, and their not removing it. And I am very angry. I make substantial money as an author by having my books available to consumers around the world via Amazon. But ... I am also a person who has come seen these monsters.

Finally, sometime after midnight, and with tens of thousands of customers closing their accounts, Amazon’s senior decision makers decided that perhaps their 76 billion dollar market capitalization was worth protecting more than an electronic, for Kindle purchase-only, how to guide on how to molest a child. Thanks Amazon. Incidentally, I liquidated whatever Amazon stock I held in my portfolio first thing this morning.

Sitting here at my desk, now with a hot cup of tea, I wonder what Tina Frundt would have had to say to Jeff Bezos if they were in a coffee shop about what Amazon had done. Tina is the 2010 recipient of Freedom Award’s ‘Frederick Douglas’ Award. Tina has helped over 500 young children get off the streets and away from child-prostitution. I wonder what Anne Keehn, the Freedom Award’s receipeint of the Anne Templeton Award would have said if she had joined in on their conversation. For those of you who do not know Anne Keehn, Anne has worked hard against the human trafficking fight in Asia. My friend Pam Michell, founder of ‘Survivor On A Mission’, and a survivor extraordinaire of human slavery surely would have had Jeff Bezos standing in front of the world apologizing for Amazon’s poor decision making if he had known of my wonderful friend’s plight. I wonder what type of legal argument my very astute friend and 'recovering lawyer' Brett Moore, no novice to fighting fights for those who can't defend themselves, would had said to Jeff Bezos with respect to how a 'how to book' that promotes and depicts criminal acts was a breach of Amazon's by-laws. Oh, that would have been very interesting. And surely, Mr. Bezos would have acted quickly if he had ever seen the holding pens, essentially chicken-coops, that young Asian boys and girls are held in certain parts of the world.

Well yesterday afternoon and throughout the evening, the voices of good citizenship and good parenting rose up and were heard. This filth that exploited our children was removed.

There is no question there is so much more to be done. Crimes that against children are not to be tolerated First Amendment or no First Amendment.

And if you’re wondering what the name of the book Amazon was selling was, I purposefully did not write it down.

Lastly, if you are a parent, make today a uniquely special day, and celebrate your child or children!

And never take these days for granted. Trust me, Chasing The Cyclone is something you never want to do.

mercredi 10 novembre 2010

Help Stop Amazon From Selling Book on Pedophilia

Over the past few years of my life, I have worked very hard to raise awareness regarding the safety and welfare of children everywhere. My actions stem from my own experience as a chasing parent. Fortunately, my efforts were successful; however, along the way I have met too many parents that have not been, and, I have meet to many individuals connected to the horrors evolving around human trafficking.

One of the things that I have known all along, and what most sane individuals realize too is that the promotion of pedophilia and adult-child physical love is beyond sick.

Today, word reached me that Amazon is selling a book that promotes pedophilia. That is right: AMAZON!!!!!!

In defiance of what Amazon is doing, a boycott has sprung to life. The numbers are growing furiously fast.

I ask that you say 'NO' to Amazon until they remove this book I will not name, but will only provide its KINDLE ASIN Number so not to promote it here, either. It is ASIN B0049U4CF6

I also ask that you write to Jeff Bezos, a father and CEO of Amazon, and let him know that First Amendment or No First Amendment, the laws of good parenting and good citizenship override everything else. And beside, Amazon has the right to remove or not sell anything they find inappropriate.

I am Peter Thomas Senese, a child abduction prevention advocate and the author of multiple books including 'Chasing The Cyclone'.

mardi 9 novembre 2010

Peter Senese And Carolyn Vlk Release New Comprehensive Report On Child Abduction Epidemic Titled ‘Crisis In America: International Parental Child Abdu

Child abduction prevention advocates Carolyn Ann Vlk and Peter Thomas Senese released today ‘Crisis In America: International Parental Child Abduction Today’ (2010). The far-reaching study focuses on the growing rate of international parental child abduction in America, while analyzing previous studies and erroneous reporting methodologies responsible for past reporting inaccuracies.

The number of reported cases of illegal cross-border parental child abduction for fiscal year 2009 as reported to Congress was 1,639 cases. This represents more than doubled the number of cases in America since 2006. However, according to Peter Senese and Carolyn Vlk, the staggering growth rates and unprecedented number of reported cases of international child abductions does not accurately represent the magnitude of the crisis in America. Citing an assortment of statistics on population growth, migratory immigration population trends, and other select criteria, the report’s writers offer a realistic and alarming picture on abduction rates in America.

Carolyn Ann Vlk is the drafter of Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act now law in Florida. Carolyn is a segment writer and producer of ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction’. Peter Thomas Senese is the author of the upcoming book on abduction titled ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ and the creator, writer, and narrator of the international documentary film educational series ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction. He is also a successful Chasing Parent.

To read ‘Crisis In America: International Parental Child Abduction Today (2010), please visit the following websites:

If you believe your child is at risk, it is critical that you prepare your child on what to do if they are taken (Click here to view how to prepare your child).

If you are interested in understanding the terrifying aspects and difficulties associated with international parental child abduction, I invite you to read 'Chasing The Cyclone' (Click here to read the reviews).

To read Chapter 1 of 'Chasing The Cyclone' please Click Here.

For more information on the growig epidemic of international parental child abduction, please Click Here.

For more information on best-selling author Peter Thomas Senese, please Click Here. or to read more about Peter Thomas Senese's books, please Click Here.

For more information on child abduction and child slavery risks associated with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, please Click Here.

To read more essays and articles on international parental child abduction, please Click Here.

lundi 8 novembre 2010

Chasing The Cyclone author Peter Thomas and Florida’s CAPA Law Architect Carolyn Ann Vlk Release ‘Prevent Departure Program’ Film.

Child abduction prevention advocates Carolyn Vlk and Peter Thomas Senese are pleased to announce the addition of the ‘Prevent Departure Program’ to the ‘CHASING PARENT: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction’ documentary film series produced by Pacifica TWST. According to the two advocates, the little-known ‘Prevent Departure Program’ may be one of America’s most useful and powerful tools capable of preventing international parental child abduction.

In a joint statement, Ms. Carolyn Vlk and Mr. Peter Senese said “ The ‘Prevent Departure Program’ may be one of the most important tools available for targeted parents at risk of having their child internationally abducted. It is critical that targeted parents and individuals at the forefront of this great battle understand its existence and potential implementation. It is our hope and anticipation that by creating this important segment in the ‘Chasing Parent’ documentary series, we have made accessible critical information parents and lawyers need in order to protect our nation’s children.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk, who drafted Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ law, and Peter Thomas Senese, the author of ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ and the creator of the ‘CHASING PARENT’ educational documentary on international child abduction are committed to raising society’s awareness and understanding on the growing epidemic of international parental child abduction while also calling for new abduction prevention laws and having existing child abduction prevention laws fully implemented and utilized.

With over 1, 600 reported cases of U.S. child-citizens criminally abducted from America in 2009 alone (the year of the last reported data), it is clear that creating and enforcing child abduction prevention programs and laws are critical to protecting our nation’s defenseless children. Since 2006, the number of reported international child abductions has doubled. The vast majority of these children are never returned, as is best demonstrated that there are over 230 American children illegally detained in Japan due to their abduction. Japan has never returned a U.S. child-citizen abducted to their country.

The actual complete picture on international parental child abduction is much more grim.

As Carolyn Vlk and Peter Thomas Senese have pointed out in previous published reports, the number of actual international child abductions originating from the United States is substantially larger than what is reported due to a failure to weigh the large number of unreported international parental child abduction cases. This is discussed in the recently published report titled ‘Crisis in America: International Parental Child Abduction (2010 Updated).

The Prevent Departure Program may be used by the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI) in conjunction with the DHS in preventing the departure from the country of non-U.S. citizens considered to be either in the process or at high risk of abducting an American child-citizen.

The Prevent Departure Program documentary segment was directed by child advocate J.J. Rogers (D.G.A), and produced by Peter Senese and Carolyn Vlk. The film segment was narrated by Peter Thomas Senese.

To view the film segment of the Prevent Departure Program or to learn more about International Parental Child Abduction, please visit the official website of Chasing The Cyclone (

At risk parents of child abduction or their lawyers should contact the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues Abduction Prevention Unit in Washington, D.C.

If you believe your child is at risk, it is critical that you prepare your child on what to do if they are taken (Click here to view how to prepare your child).

If you are interested in understanding the terrifying aspects and difficulties associated with international parental child abduction, I invite you to read 'Chasing The Cyclone' (Click here to read the reviews).

To read Chapter 1 of 'Chasing The Cyclone' please Click Here.

For more information on the growig epidemic of international parental child abduction, please Click Here.

For more information on best-selling author Peter Thomas Senese, please Click Here. or to read more about Peter Thomas Senese's books, please Click Here.

For more information on child abduction and child slavery risks associated with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, please Click Here.

To read more essays and articles on international parental child abduction, please Click Here.

For more information on Peter Thomas Senese, please visti

samedi 30 octobre 2010

Child Abduction Prevention Tools: The Prevent Departure Program. View the Video

The Prevent Departure Program

I am pleased to share the completed educational video on the Prevent Departure Program is now available to view. The Prevent Departure Program may be one of the most useful tools to protect our nation's children from the injustices associated with being targets of international parenal child abduction.

Please visit the 'Prevent Departure Program' Educational Documentary located on the official website of Chasing The Cyclone. For more information of Peter Senese, please visit Peter's Official Website.

jeudi 21 octobre 2010

The Prevent Departure Program - A Useful Tool That May Prevent International Child Abductions

Prevent Departure Program - A Useful Tool That May Prevent International Parental Child Abductions From Occurring by Peter Thomas Senese

International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA) has become a global epidemic best exemplified in an assortment of distinct government reports including the most recent 2010 United States Department of State’s Hague Compliance Report prepared for Congress, as well as various non-government reports including the findings published in ‘Crisis In America: International Parental Child Abduction’ Carolyn Vlk and I prepared.

Statistically, the number of international child abductions originating from the United States is alarming. This number, similar to other nations throughout the world, is growing.

According to the most recent Compliance Report issued by the Department of State (2010 Compliance Report measures statistics created during Fiscal Year 2009), there were 1,135 reported cases of parental child abduction in 2009 representing 1,621 children. The number of new outgoing cases has almost doubled since Fiscal Year 2006, from 642 reported cased to now 1,135 reported cases. It is anticipated that the number of reported cases will continue to escalate substantially.

However, many individuals consider these statistics to be inaccurate because they do not reflect the anticipated large unreported immigration population that has migrated to the United States. There are also substantial numbers of international child abductions associated with undocumented migratory parents living in the US with their legally born American child-citizens.

Additionally, historical precedent indicates there exists parents who are left behind in the wake of their child’s international parental abduction who purposefully do not file a child abduction report due to their belief that their chance of recovering their parentally abducted child is slim and that the costs involved in recovery are substantial. Additionally, foreign government’s courts typically favor the abducting parent as a civil order issued by the United States is rarely honored by a foreign nation, particularly if that abducting parent is a national of the country where the child was illegally taken to. There is not question that the crime of international parental child abduction is a well-orchestrated cruel crime against both the child and the Chasing Parent left behind.

Critical to protecting our targeted children and their targeted parent from the nightmare that awaits them if a child successfully is removed from our nation’s borders exists federal and in certain states, abduction prevention laws.Tragically, many states still have not implemented prevention laws. This needs to change immediately.However, in states where there are laws in place and courts have issued orders in order to prevent a parental child abduction from occurring, there are too many loop holes that, if planned carefully, will allow certain individuals the opportunity to abduct a child and flee to another country. This is particularly true if the parent intending to abduct their US citizen child is a non-US - national and that person still holds citizenship to another nation.

This report was created to share certain information about the United State’s Prevent Departure Program, (PDP) and how this particular program may be utilized to assist certain at-risk US citizen children from the horrible fate of international parental child abduction.

Perhaps the best way to discuss the Prevent Departure Program is to discuss a typical scenario where the PDP may be useful.

Case Study

Lets begin by suggesting Parent A is a citizen of another country but lives in the United States with Parent B. Parent B is a United States citizen. Parent A need not be married to Parent B.

During the course of A and B’s relationship, a child is born in the United States. When this occurs, the child is automatically a United States Citizen by birth.

In all likelihood, the child also will retain automatic citizenship to the nation that Parent A is a national of.

Let us assume both parents enjoy a right of custody to the child either through marriage, or, in cases where there is no marriage, either by state statue or by court orders.

During the course of time, Parent A decides to end the relationship and desires to return to their nation of origin with the child.

Now, Parent B, having great concern that Parent A intends to take the child and flee the United States and go to another country, obtains court orders forbidding Parent A from taking the child out of the country. The court orders for Parent A to turn over to the court the child’s US passport if one has been issued, and further directs the child’s name to be registered with the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program, thus essentially removing the potential abducting parent from being able to remove the child from the United States using an American passport issued in the child’s name.

In addition, Parent B successfully requests that the court notify the embassy of the country Parent A is a citizen of, whereas, the court informs the embassy that a child custody dispute is alive and well in the jurisdiction of the child’s country of habitual residency, and the court requests for that foreign embassy not to issue a passport in the child’s name, thus securing the inability of the child from departing until the court proceedings are finalized.

Problem solved? No

In many circumstances, a pending departure is already well planned before the targeted parent becomes aware of it. Parent A may already have in their possession a passport issued by their nation of origin for the child. If this is the case, it is very difficult for the US court to seize the foreign passport of the child, particularly if it is not known whether a passport has been issued in the child’s name.

If a passport has not been issued in the child’s name, then in all likelihood, Parent A will attempt to obtain one regardless if the child’s passport application requires Parent B’s signature or not. In fact, certain countries do not require the signature of the mother of a child, only the father.

In addition, each nation obtains a sovereign right to oversee their own citizens, and since the child may be considered a citizen of the country of Parent A too, the embassy is not required or obligated to follow the U.S. court’s orders. They have every right and may issue a passport in the child’s name despite requests not to do so. And make no mistake about this, in more cases than not, particularly if Parent A is very persuasive when communicating with someone from their own embassy, they will successfully obtain the passport.

If Parent A has possession of a non-US passport for their child, they very well may be able to physically leave the country with the child and illegally abduct the child. What is perhaps even more troubling is the fact that Parent B has no way or right to know if a passport was issued from the native country of Parent A in the name of the child.

A disaster waiting to happen? You bet it is.

But there is hope for those parents who find themselves in a scenario where Parent A is not an American citizen living in the United States with their child and, Parent A possess a foreign passport for the child of the relationship.

Since 2003, United States citizens have had available a very effective international child abduction prevention tool called ‘The Prevent Departure Program’. Unfortunately, many parents at risk of having their child internationally abducted are not aware that this incredibly useful tool is available to them.

In the aftermath of 911, the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘Prevent Departure Program’ was created to stop non-U.S. citizens from departing the country. The program applies to non-US citizens physically located in America considered individuals at risk of child abduction. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) oversees this program and it is monitored 24 hours a day.

What the ‘Prevent Departure Program’ does is provide immediate information to the transportation industry, including all air, land, and sea channels a single point of contact at Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and provides a comprehensive database of individuals the United States believes may immediately depart to a foreign country.

The program only applies to aliens, and is not available to stop U.S. citizens or dual U.S./foreign citizens from leaving the country.

Under Section 215 of the ‘Immigration and Nationality Act’ (8 U.S.C. 1185) and it’s implementing regulations (8 CFR Part 215 and 22 CFR Part 46), it authorizes departure-control officers to prevent an alien’s departure from the United States if the alien’s departure would be prejudicial to the interests of the United States. These regulations include would-be abductions of U.S. citizens in accordance to court orders originating from the child’s court of habitual residency.

If the abductor and child are identified, they will be denied boarding. In order to detain them after boarding is denied, there must be a court order prohibiting the child’s removal or providing for the child’s pick-up, or a warrant for the abductor.

In order for an at risk parent to participate in the program, all of the following must be demonstrated:

1. Subject may NOT be a US citizen; and,

2. The nomination must include a law enforcement agency contact with 24/7 coverage; and,

3. There must be a court order showing which parent has been awarded custody or shows that the Subject is restrained from removing his/her minor child from certain counties, the state or the U.S.; and,

4. The Subject must be in the US; and,

5. There must be some likelihood that the Subject will attempt to depart in the immediate future.

With respect to the established guidelines listed above, note that in order to request the listing of the other parent, that person must be an alien of the United States. The program does not apply to US citizens at risk of leaving the country.

The second mandate states a request to place an individual’s name on the Prevent Departure Program must include support by a law enforcement agency or from the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, which has the authority of requesting for the Department of Homeland Security to list a suspected child abductor on the ‘Prevent Departure Program’.

The third criteria: possessing a custodial order, is essential. Regardless if the other parent has joint custody or rights of visitation, critically, you must make sure that there are injunction orders in place prohibiting the child from being removed from the jurisdiction of habitual residency. Unfortunately, many international parental child abductions are well planned out in advance of the actual abduction, and the targeted parent has no idea that an abduction is in progress until it is too late. This is why it is essential for parents in partnership with non-nationals to be fully aware of the warning signs associated with a potential international child abduction.

The fourth criteria states the obvious: in order to prevent an alien-parent suspected of abducting a child on U.S. soil, that parent must be on U.S. soil.

The fifth criteria requests that the applying parent demonstrate that the alien-parent has demonstrated the likelihood of abducting the child across international borders in the immediate future. Remember – you need to document and record as much evidence as possible.

For many parents who face the risk of having their child abducted and removed across international borders, the nightmare that both targeted parent and victimized child face is unbearable.

The Prevent Departure Program is not for everyone and should not be abused; however, in situations where an abduction threat is real and the targeting parent intent on abducting a child is a non-US citizen possessing the capacity to breach court orders and abduct a child of a relationship, the Prevent Departure Program may be a useful tool.
For more information on the ‘Prevent Departure Program’, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children's Issues website or contact the Office of Children’s Issues directly at 888.407.4747 or 202.501.4444.

mercredi 12 mai 2010

Florida Child Abduction Prevention Act Now LAW

It is official! Late this afternoon in Tallahassee, Florida Governor Crist officially signed the landmark ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ into law. The ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will go into effect on January 1st, 2011.

Championed by Representative Darryl Rouson (D- St. Petersburg), the groundbreaking legislation that is now law will provide the Florida courts the responsibility to assess risk factors associated with a potential parental child abduction and further allows for judges overseeing high-risk cases of potential abduction to issue court orders that will prevent a child’s abduction from occurring.

Representative Darryl Rouson issued the following statement immediately following Governor Crist’s signing moments ago, “I am extremely pleased to announce that as of today, my dream and goal of creating law that would help prevent our state’s children from experiencing the nightmare of child abduction is now a reality. As abduction cases in our state and the nation continue to increase at alarming and unprecedented levels, it has become apparent that the combative way to prevent this epidemic from spreading was to create a sweeping law that will aid the courts in protecting our children. The ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ certainly does this. I would like to thank Governor Crist and all of my fellow lawmakers, including child advocate Senator Eleanor Sobel, for realizing the importance of this law. The significance of this new law in Florida should be a lesson for all states presently considering child abduction prevention legislation; it is critical to the children of every state to have preventive laws in place that will protect their well being. I would also like to thank Carolyn Ann Vlk, the astute writer of the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ for her tremendous leadership in writing such a sweeping law, and, I would like to also acknowledge Peter Thomas Senese for his substantial advocacy in support of our state’s new law. Today is a great day for the children of Florida.”

Senator Eleanor Sobel (D- Fort Lauderdale) previously stated, “Abductions are incredibly damaging and can haunt a child for the rest of their lives. This new law will keep Florida’s children safe from these potentially devastating experiences… abductions out of the state or the country can be extremely harmful to children. It is also nearly impossible to locate and return a child who has been taken to a foreign country. The safest and most cost effective approach is to simply prevent an abduction.” Florida’s new law does exactly that.

Peter Thomas Senese, the author of the highly anticipated book on international parental child abduction titled ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ and one of the lead child abduction prevention advocates who actively championed for the passage of the legislation into law added, “Child abduction prevention laws such as Florida’s breakthrough ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ are the lines of first defense against the pandemic of abduction sweeping our nation and the world. There are many unique components that make the legislation that Carolyn Ann Vlk wrote that Florida’s legislative branch and Governor Crist enthusiastically supported that is best measured by the unprecedented and historical act that this bill was unanimously passed into law. One of the unprecedented components of this law that uniquely stands out is that courts now have the opportunity to seek the assistance of the Department of Homeland Securities’ ‘Prevent Departure Program’ that is implemented via the Department of State in potential international child abduction cases. So in a certain sense, the Florida law, in my eyes, is actually the implementation of two laws: one is a new state law, and the second is for more awareness and use of a present federal law few individuals are aware exists.

“Now with the passage of this historic law, I hope that other states, including California and New York will update or pass new legislation that will protect our nation’s children from abduction. According to an extensive report on abduction trends Carolyn Ann Vlk and I recently released titled, ‘International Parental Child Abduction: Crisis In America’, our study’s findings demonstrated unequivocally an increased threat of abduction due to many tangible factors including economic hardship and increases in immigration population to our country. Child abduction prevention laws in all states are critical, and I was happy to play my role alongside the fine lawmakers in the state and one of our nation’s great child advocates, Carolyn Ann Vlk.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the author of the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ stated, “Words cannot express the myriad of emotions I am experiencing at this historical moment in Florida State history. My dream of creating a comprehensive legislation to protect children from abduction is now a reality. My heart is filled with gratitude towards the many people whom have made this moment possible. First and foremost on behalf of the children and families of Florida I would like to express my deepest gratitude to State Representative Darryl E. Rouson, District 55. I first met with Representative Rouson in 2007 and relayed my family’s story and concerns that my child was at risk of being abducted. I shared my insight that our current laws were lacking reliable risk assessment and preventive measures to prevent the unspeakable tragedy of child abduction. Representative Rouson immediately offered to help in any way possible and has been a staunch children's advocate and a driving force leading the way for Florida to set the precedent for other states to follow. Henry Moseley, legislative aide to the Representative has been an invaluable and constant source of information and assistance throughout this entire process. I feel honored to have worked with Senator Eleanor Sobel who was the Senate sponsor of our bill. Senator Sobel has had a long and illustrious political career and her advocacy on behalf of our state’s children was undeniable. Thanks also go out to her legislative aide, Nick Matthews, whose political knowledge and expertise was invaluable in this process. To all the Senators and Representatives who unanimously voted YES on this vital piece of legislation, I thank you.

“And to Governor Charlie Crist, thank you Governor, for recognizing that our children need to be protected and for taking this issue seriously and acting proactively to better protect our precious citizens.

“What began as purely a personal issue and an innate desire to protect my own child morphed into the ‘Florida Child Abduction Prevention Act’. As I researched this issue, I found it difficult to believe that so many children were either at extreme risk of abduction, or worse, had already been abducted. I felt that my advocacy needed to extend beyond making sure my own child was protected and thus I began the writing of this bill.

“I would also like to express my most sincere thanks to author Peter Thomas Senese, a successful chasing parent who has actively and tirelessly advocated along with me. Peter has traveled from Los Angeles to Florida on several occasions, providing important testimony before the State legislators. He substantially raised the bar of awareness and understanding on this issue before our lawmakers, and he raised the profile of how important and significant an issue child abduction really is. Florida resident, Captain William Lake, whose own daughter Mary remains criminally abducted in Japan, also provided invaluable testimony in front of State legislators. And due to Peter Thomas Senese’s assistance, Ken Connelly, who was abducted as a child also provided testimony in front of our policy makers. I also would like to thank my family, for the love and support they have provided throughout this journey, I am forever indebted.

“My greatest desire has been to significantly reduce the number of children that are abducted and I believe that will be achieved through proper risk assessment and the implementation of preventive measures within our family court system. Indeed this is a monumental day for the great State of Florida now that the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ is law.”

mercredi 28 avril 2010

International Parental Child Abduction Rate In the U.S. Anticipated To Increase

International Parental Child Abduction In America: A Silent Epidemic of Kidnapping

Written By:

Peter Thomas Senese and Carolyn Ann Vlk

It is believed that United States children-citizens are being criminally abducted, illegally removed overseas, and wrongfully detained in foreign countries in shocking and seemingly advancing and unprecedented numbers. This despite U.S. court orders prohibiting their removal and/or demanding for their immediate return.

Remarkably, the necessary data required to accurately measure the total number of international parental child abductions (IPCA) does not exist due to the inability to measure what is believed to be a large number of ‘unreported’ cases, which is discussed in this report later on. Therefore due to the inability to measure ‘unreported’ cases, much of what has been previously reported in government and reputable organizations’ studies or statements should be considered as speculation due in part to the inability to measure ‘unreported’ cases as well as forecasted numbers derived from immeasurable and highly questionable determining methodologies. The only measureable statistics are the number of cases reported to law enforcement and to the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI). This report contends that the data of OCI is complete, however it does not reflect the full scope of international parental child abductions due.

The content of this report includes statistics from the most current published annual report dated April of 2009 and titled the Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The 2010 annual compliance report is expected to be delivered to Congress in the coming days and will be publically available in the near future; however, we anticipate that the current trends previously seen with respect to the increase in international parental child abduction will remain.

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the writer of Florida's Child Abduction Prevention Act, explains, "In response to a mandate of the 1984 Missing Children Act, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJPD) publishes periodic studies titled the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART). The NISMART publications are meant to identify the numbers of children who are reported missing and the number of children recovered in a particular year. These bulletins consist of comprehensive studies with an emphasis on examining trends in the incidence of missing children."

The NISMART I study (utilizing data from 1988 and published in 1990) reported that there were an estimated 354,100 family abductions annually. In order to derive data for that study in regards to the number of children that are victims of a family abduction each year a household telephone survey was conducted. The survey included a total of 10,367 interviews with adult caretakers. The Population Estimates Program of the Population Division U.S. Census Bureau estimated the U.S. population at 244,498,982 in 1988. To clarify, a sampling of telephone interviews from 0.0000413% of the U.S. population was utilized to provide the statistical data that is widely accepted as being an accurate accounting of the numbers of annual family abductions.

The NISMART - 2 study, which utilized data from 1999 and was published in 2002, reported that there were 203,900 family abductions annually. This study also utilized a household telephone survey and completed interviews with 16,111 adult caretakers. Additionally, this study surveyed 5,015 youth ages 10-18 who lived in the sample households. During the study year the estimated U.S. population was 272,690,813, thus reflecting completed interviews of 0.000059% of the U.S. adult population. Once again, a small fraction of the U.S. population was interviewed as the only method of determining the annual numbers of family abductions. Critically, and troublesome is the fact that the NISMART studies did not derive any of the data relating to family abductions from law enforcement or other governmental agencies. Data was entirely compiled from random computer-assisted telephone interviewing methodology. Neither study conducted a second survey.

Now consider an assortment of generally accepted reports or statements from leading authorities including The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). On April 22, 2002 NCMEC stated in a press release the following, “In an effort to educate the public and to provide more services to victims, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has released a new publication entitled Family Abduction: Prevention and Response and has recently formed a group for adults who were victims of family abduction as children. A commonly misunderstood and complex issue, best estimates indicate that there are 354,000 domestic and 16,000 international family abductions per year.”

We are unable to ascertain where NCMEC determined their 16,000 international child abductions per year. What we do know is that according to the Department of State, in several of their published statements, that there were approximately 16,000 international parental child abductions over a two-decade long period. What these inconsistencies demonstrate is a lack of completely measurable data that represents the entire picture on cross-border child abduction. Unknown is whether the NCMEC statement included an estimate of ‘unreported’ cases or perhaps was an error as the same ‘16,000’ yearly number is identical to the Department of State’s ’16,000’ two decade number.

Peter Thomas Senese is the author of the upcoming book titled Chasing The Cyclone which critics have praised as an extraordinary story on international parental child abduction, love, and parenting. He stated, “Criminal parental cross-border abduction appears to be increasing in the United States and abroad at significant rates despite the fact that there is not enough accurate data required to establish growth trends in cross-border abductions. The rise of abduction in our country as well as that seen in other nations indicates that we have a global pandemic on our hands. And as more children from different nations are stolen and not returned, including our own children, citizens will inevitably voice their growing anger over the fact that their nation’s children-citizens have been abducted. The stealing of children across international borders can, and very well will inevitably create grave challenges for all nations who sit at the world’s political and economic tables."

This report will unequivocally demonstrate that new, carefully constructed research initiated by our government is immediately needed, and that the number of international parental child abductions is increasing despite efforts to stop this terrible act directed at our children-citizens.

Indisputable, are the actual number of ‘reported’ abduction cases. Estimating the incalculable total number of ‘unreported’ cases is difficult to assess. Despite this inability to concisely determine the total number of cases each year, it appears America and our nation’s children-citizens are plagued by a dangerous criminal epidemic known as ‘International Parental Child Abduction’ that is silently sweeping through our nation. At risk are tens if not hundreds of thousands of our defenseless children who are targeted for abduction each year.

In April of 2009, the annual Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was released. This is the most current report to date issued by the Department of State. In that publication, Janice L. Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs writes, "Unfortunately, current trends reflect a steady increase in the number of international parental child abduction cases and highlight the urgency of redoubling efforts to promote compliance with Convention obligations and encourage additional nations to join the Convention." She also writes, "Very few options exist for parents and children who are victims of parental child abduction."

This fact is evidenced by the statistical data contained within the 2009 report. Utilizing data that was collected during the period from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008 the report reflects that of the 1,082 new cases were reported involving 1,615 children. During the study year the U.S. was only successful in the return of 361 children. However, it is important to note that as time passes, it becomes substantially more difficult to recover an abducted child.

Peter Thomas Senese commented, “The anticipated number of international abductions used as a benchmark and often referred to is inconclusive because the published data does not take into consideration ‘unreported’ cases of international child abduction, population growth, increases in multi-cultural marriages, immigration migration increases to the United States, and economic difficulties many families are facing, which inevitably leads to a break-up of the family unit. More concerning is how the widely distributed and cited surveys used what I believe to be an inadequate number of telephone interviews and appear not to include any law enforcement records. In my view, we as a nation have a serious problem on our hands.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk stated, "Admittedly, something is seriously amiss in our ability to accurately estimate the number of children victimized by the crime of child abduction. In my opinion, utilizing only a random telephone survey, to determine the number of affected children is a process flawed by numerous, serious methodological problems. Additionally, the cooperation and compliance rate in obtaining the return of our citizen children who have been criminally internationally abducted must be drastically improved. The recovery of only 361 of these children during an entire fiscal year is not and should not be acceptable".

Unfortunately, many internationally abducted children are never returned because their abductions are not reported to authorities. The likelihood is that the vast majority of these types of cases never end with a child’s return. It would be reasonable to conclude that if a targeted parent did not report their child’s abduction, then in all likelihood, that U.S. child-citizen will not be returned to the United States. Due to the number of ‘unreported’ international abduction cases, it is difficult to determine a reasonable return-rate percentage. We recognize the difficulty in attempting to accurately estimate the ‘unreported’ case numbers and believe that it is probable that the number of returns of ‘unreported’ cases is extremely low and essentially immeasurable.

Reasons for ‘unreported’ cases include the financial inability of a Chasing Parent to take legal action since they are responsible to pay for all costs associated with their child’s recovery – even though a child’s international abduction violates state and federal laws such as the International Parental Kidnapping Crimes Act (IPKCA). Furthermore, many parents experience a sense of hopelessness that any recovery efforts will be futile since there are great difficulties associated with bringing a child home, including the possibility of first trying to determine where your child is. Also, the fact is that many nations are not a party of or do not uphold the Hague Convention. Furthermore, there exist substantial prejudices in foreign courts.

The NISMART I study reported that there were a total of 354,000 parental child abductions annually. The NISMART II study stated the total number of parental child abductions decreased to approximately 203,900 children. The truth of the matter is that we really do not know how accurate any of the data is or how large of a problem we actually have on our hands. What we do know is that hundreds of thousands of children are targeted for parental abduction each year, and out of this group, tens of thousands of these instances include planned international parental abductions.

According to leading experts who specialize in international parental child abduction, conclusive and unilateral opinion and fact demonstrates that parental child abduction of a targeted child is a cruel, criminal, and severe form of abuse and mistreatment regardless if the child is with one of their (abducting) parents. This includes the illegal act of international abduction, whereas, the child is unexpectedly uprooted from their home, their community, their immediate and extended family, and their country. Sadly, severe short and long-term psychological problems are prevalent for many abduction victims who survive their kidnapping experience. It is commonplace for a child to be emotionally sabotaged, whereas, the abducting parent will try to remove all bonds and attachments the child has with the other parent, thus, removing the child’s right to know the love of the other parent, and keep in tact their own identity. Too many children simply never come home and in certain cases a child’s abduction overseas has led to the death of the abducted child.

A leader in the field of parental child abduction issues, Dr. Dorothy Huntington wrote an article titled Parental Kidnapping: A New Form of Child Abuse. Huntington contends that from the point of view of the child, "child stealing is child abuse." According to Huntington, "in child stealing the children are used as both objects and weapons in the struggle between the parents which leads to the brutalization of the children psychologically, specifically destroying their sense of trust in the world around them."

“Because of the harmful effects on children, parental kidnapping has been characterized as a form of “child abuse" reports Patricia Hoff, Legal Director for the Parental Abduction Training and Dissemination Project, American Bar Association on Children and the Law. Hoff explains, "Abducted children suffer emotionally and sometimes physically at the hands of abductor-parents. Many children are told the other parent is dead or no longer loves them. Uprooted from family and friends, abducted children often are given new names by their abductor-parents and instructed not to reveal their real names or where they lived before." (Hoff, 1997)

Consider that today in Japan, there are approximately 230 American children-citizens who were illegally abducted from United States soil to Japan by one of their parents in violation of U.S. court orders. To date, and for what is believed to be nearly fifty years, Japan – America’s strong ally – has never returned 1 American child who was parentally kidnapped and illegally detained in accordance to United States law. And tragically, the vast majority of the chasing parents left-behind in the wake of their child’s abduction are not permitted to have contact with their child.

"I'm the only living parent to my daughter Erika," said U.S. Navy Commander Paul Toland, whose daughter Erika was abducted to Japan seven years ago, "my wife died and my daughter was subsequently kidnapped by her grandmother, yet I have absolutely no access to her. Both the State Department and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs have asked to visit my daughter to check on her welfare, but the abductor said no. In the Japanese system, where no enforcement mechanisms exist and compliance is completely voluntary, all any government agency can say to me is ‘We're sorry, we tried’. Nobody can offer any remedies or solutions, because none exist."

At the time of Commander Toland’s child’s abduction, OCI did not include his case as an officially reported case since at the time, Commander Paul Toland, father of Ericka, was on active duty serving his country, and military personal cases were not counted as ‘reported’ cases. This has recently changed.

Welcome to the absurd world of international parental child abduction. The bizarreness of Commander Toland and his daughter’s dire odyssey into the world of the incomprehensible is the norm experienced by many chasing parents and their children, not the oddity.

There are abundant reasons why it is very difficult to have an illegally stolen child returned despite the United States being a signatory of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. They include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Lack of action in reporting a child’s abduction by a targeted parent left behind; and,
2. Many nations do not comply with or uphold the spirit of the convention (ex, Brazil, Mexico, Germany); and,
3. Many countries have not signed the convention (ex. Japan, China, Russia, and many countries located in the Middle East); and,
4. Chasing Parents may not have an idea what country their child was taken to; and,
5. Chasing Parents are responsible to carry the enormous financial burden associated with their child’s recovery. Many simply do not have the substantial resources needed; and,
6. Many Chasing Parents do not have the knowledge necessary to navigate the difficult and complex legal system of international law, nor do they often know who to turn to and what to do; and,
7. Nationalistic prejudices of court systems located in the ‘inbound’ country, whereas, a court may try to protect the abducting parent if that parent is a citizen of the country where they abducted the child to; and,
8. Cultural differences; and,
9. A Chasing Parent’s fear to attempt to recover their child due to threats from the abducting parent or individuals associated with the abducting parent; and,
10. Lack of cooperation from law enforcement; and,
11. Limited power of the Office of Children’s Issues to intervene on behalf of a U.S. citizen.

According to statements issued by the Department of State, reported cases of international parental child abduction increased by 40% from 2007 to 2009, which appears to be similar to what other Hague Convention signatory nations have experienced. This represents a mean increase of 20% per year. The report for 2009 to 2010 will be issued on April 28th, 2010; however, the expected percentage increase in abductions is anticipated to be equivalent to, if not higher than the increases demonstrated during 2007-2009.

What is not known is whether the increase in ‘reported’ cases to the Department of State’s OCI is due to greater public awareness and proactivity amongst targeted parents, an actual increase in the number of international abductions, the extensive outreach made by OCI to let targeted parents know that OCI exists and can assist a Chasing Parent, or all of the above.

Peter Thomas Senese, who turned to OCI during his child’s abduction commented, “There never is a day that goes by that I am not appreciative and thankful for the assistance that was extended to me and my family by the Office of Children’s Issues during the time I was chasing the cyclones of international parental child abduction. Unquestionably, it was through the assistance of some of the extraordinary, caring and concerned individuals from OCI who intervened on behalf of my child’s case that today my son lives a happy, peaceful, and secure existence. OCI had a giant impact on my case, and for the rest of my life, I will be forever thankful to some of that organization.”

The increase in reported cases by the Department of State only demonstrates abduction cases that are actually ‘reported’. Unfortunately, it is believed that many abduction cases are not reported due to multiple reasons. This includes fear from immigrant aliens living in the United States with either documented or undocumented status that they may be deported if they file a Hague Application with OCI seeking for the return of their abducted child. In these cases, OCI will always accept a request for assistance regardless if the parent is here legally or not since The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction does not say anything about citizenship status. And it has been OCI’s policy to never report an undocumented alien to the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Now consider the data contained in the most current Hague Compliance report indicating that the mean growth rate experienced between 2007-2009 was approximately 40% (an average of 20%). If the rate continues at a mean of 20% over the next ten years and we factor in the 2009 reported case numbers, this forecasts that our nation will have at least 9,647 of our children-citizens criminally abducted overseas in the year 2020, and from 2008 through 2020, 52,466 of our nation’s children will have been internationally abducted.

Our position is that due to the existence of what we believe to be a significant and substantial number of ‘unreported’ cases combined with population growth and increases in documented and undocumented immigration migration, the rate of children abducted internationally will continue to rise at a rate of at least, if not substantially greater than 20% annually unless significant abduction prevention steps are immediately implemented.

Combining the projected increases of ‘reported’ cases with the immeasurable ‘unreported’ cases that is apparent and real based upon immigration migration and economic factors, it is reasonable to state that America and our children are facing a serious problem.

The absurdity of this all is so terrifying that you might be inclined and desirous to dismiss it, particularly when we consider the immeasurable number of cases presently classified as ‘unreported’ that may shift to the ‘reported’ category due to public awareness combined with OCI’s outreach efforts.

It is important to note that none of these figures include the large number of children who have previously been internationally abducted and presently remain illegally detained overseas.

Studies have demonstrated that an unprecedented number of abductions have occurred where one parent took unilateral action to deprive the other parent of contact with their child. The majority of abducting parents will typically use the child as a tool to cause the targeted parent great pain and suffering.

Understandably, family abductions occur at a higher rate during times of heightened stress such as separation or divorce and often involve custody issues and visitation problems. The sad fact is that a large number of marriages, estimated to be between 40% and 50%, in the U.S. end in divorce.

One of the many considerations that factor into the increase in total abductions indicates that economic difficulties in the United States and elsewhere are a measurable factor in the number of increases in separations and divorces. This added stress can lead to a parental cross-border abduction, particularly since we live in a global society, and the number of international relationships has increased dramatically.

While all children can be potential targets of a family abduction, the likelihood increases when that child has a parent with ties to a foreign country. According to the Juvenile and Family Court Journal Vol. 48, No. 2 titled Jurisdiction In Child Custody and Abduction Cases, “Parents who are citizens of another country (or who have dual citizenship with the U.S.) and also have strong ties to their extended family in their country of origin have long been recognized as abduction risks.” This increase in cultural diversity within the U.S. population has created challenges for our existing laws. Many U.S. born children-citizens fall victim to parental abduction when a parents’ union ends.

Across the U.S., states are struggling to address their archaic and outdated laws, and establish additional precautions to better protect their child-citizen population. Unquestionably, it is critical that child abduction prevention laws are passed in each state and upheld by the judiciary and law enforcement. Failure to do so will likely lead to the looming disaster that is already upon us.

Peter Thomas Senese stated, “As a nation, the United States must fight back this sweeping plague by passing child abduction prevention laws and by increasing our judiciary’s level of competency in overseeing and enforcing laws associated with these complex cases of potential or actual international parental child abductions. Critical to judges and lawmakers’ ability to protect our children is the need for immediate research on this subject. The present available information is archaic, and more than likely inaccurate particularly due to the inability to measure 'unreported' cases. The community of child abduction prevention advocates has pointed this out for some time now. What we also need is for the creation and enforcement of well thought out and researched laws along with the upholding of the intent, spirit, and law of the international treaties such as The Hague Convention so we can protect our children and put an end to the spread of this malignant pandemic that has reached our shores.

Florida state representative Darryl Rouson is the lawmaker who championed and sponsored Florida’s landmark Child Abduction Prevention Act (HB 787). The bill was unanimously approved in the Senate and House of Representatives last week and is highly anticipated to become law within the coming days. Representative Rouson commented, “It is critical for each state to implement laws that will protect the rights of our children-citizens who may face parental child abduction. The misconception that when one parent steals a child from the other parent, that the child is safe, is undeniably inaccurate. It is through prevention laws such as Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act that we will be able to prevent this serious crime against our nation’s children from occurring.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk,the child abduction prevention advocate commented, "Early on in my research on this critical issue I recognized the urgent need for preventative legislation. Thankfully, Florida's legislative body wholeheartedly agreed as evidenced by the unanimous votes. I am thrilled for the added measure of safety this new law will have in protecting the children of my great state. However, I will not be satisfied until all states have child abduction prevention legislation enacted."

One of the great concerns is the determining the actual number of annual child abductions. In the 2009 report approximately 1,082 outgoing cases were reported to OCI. However, we must also consider the number of cases that are unreported. This leads to several obvious questions including how accurate is the data that was compiled in the NISMART publications. Particularly when we consider the study was generated, concluded, and widely disseminated based upon completed adult surveys of approximately 10,367 households in 1988 and 16,111 in 1999. We must also ask ourselves why there appears to be a large number of unreported abduction cases? And why is the data so old and outdated, and how could our government allow for this to happen? Budget constraints aside, we’re talking about out nation’s children, aren’t we? Undeniably, we need to know what the real numbers are. And finally, what can OCI do to further assist targeted parents and their children who have not reported their cases?

In order to answer these questions, we must first look at the shift in our country’s population, and heavily weigh who we are – as a nation of immigrants.

A report compiled by the renowned Washington based Pew Hispanic Center reports that most immigrant groups are comprised of young families. The likelihood that a child will be born while the parents are present in the U.S. is high. Prior to 2007, data collected on parents of children under 18 only identified one parent, and a second parent could only be identified if they were married to the first parent. Currently, a second parent identifier is considered whether or not the parents are married to each other. The new data more accurately reflects the number of children living in the U.S. with at least one foreign born parent.

In 2008 that meant that 22% of all children in the United States had at least one foreign-born parent. In fact, consider the following statistics compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies in its March 2007 analysis. Immigrants and their U.S. born children under age 18, as a share of population: California - 37.9%, Los Angles County - 50%, New York State - 27.9%, New York City - 46.7% and Florida - 27.9%.

It must be noted that although 31.3% of all immigrants originate from Mexico, other countries have significant entry numbers as well. Included in the March 2007 Current Population Survey (CPS) were statistics indicating that 17.6% of all immigrants were from East/Southeast Asia, 12.5% from Europe, 5.5% from South Asia, 3.5% from the Middle East, and Canada at 1.9%.

Traditionally, states such as California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois and Arizona have had large numbers of immigrants in their population. What is surprising is the trends in migration toward new centers of immigrant growth. The CPS prepared an analysis of states with statistically significant growth in immigrant population between 2000 and 2007. Most notably, Wyoming, which experienced a percentage increase of 180%, Tennessee at 160%, Georgia at 152.1%, and Alabama at 143.6%. The impact of unprecedented increases in immigrant migration is likely to create multiple challenges as states struggle to keep pace with their newest segment of population and their children.

“As a nation of immigrants, it is important to note that as our nation’s population increases due to immigrant migration, so too does the likelihood of increased cross-border child abduction,” Peter Thomas Senese added.

Additionally, it has been well established that illegal aliens do not respond to surveys such as the US Census or the CPS. Because the U.S. government does not have accurate records of arrival and departures for individuals present illegally in the country, their numbers must be estimated, as there is no hard data to draw from. However, indirect means for establishing these figures are used, and they must be viewed with a considerable amount of uncertainty. In 2007 CPS, it was estimated that of the approximately 37.9 million immigrants present in the U.S., nearly 1 in 3 immigrants were present illegally.

It is important to note this segment of our population when discussing child abduction because when a child is born in the U.S. that child automatically is a U.S. citizen. While the available data gives us fairly accurate figures regarding the number of children born in the U.S. as well as those immigrants who are present legally, a number is impossible to compile accurately in relation to the unauthorized resident population.

In regards to children born to illegal immigrants, in the five-year period from 2003 to 2008, that number rose from 2.7 million to 4 million. The report published by the Pew Hispanic Centers reported that nationally the children of illegal immigrants now comprise 1 in 15 elementary and secondary students in the U.S. Additionally, in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Texas more than 1 in every 10 students in those states are the children of illegal immigrants.

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the writer of Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act stated, “The ability of state governments to prevent the abduction of children by family members could be drastically improved by comprehensive legislation. While aiming to protect all children, special consideration must be given to those children who may be at increased risk simply by virtue of their parentage. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the U.S. projected up to April 22, 2010 estimated that one international migrant enters the U.S. every 36 seconds. International travel has become commonplace and as more cross-cultural relationships develop children are born. A number of these relationships will end and may result in an increased risk of international abduction of the child. Attempting to retrieve a child who has been abducted and possibly hidden internationally is a near impossibility as a multitude of problems surface in cases such as these. Unfortunately, studies have proved 4 of 5 Americans drastically underestimate the threat of a family abduction. Statistically, it is a sobering thought when you become aware of the vast numbers of children that are criminally abducted each year. Preventative laws are a necessity as an immediate remedy to this unconscionable crime.”

David Bokel of Lynchburg, Virginia was a targeted parent of international parental child abduction. On December 24th, 2003 his young daughter was parentally abducted and planned to be criminally removed from the country. Fortunately, Mr. Bokel was able to find and safely bring home his child. He commented, “International parental abduction, a form of child abuse, is seriously on the rise. The laws in our country realistically permit an abducting parent who intends to carry out their planned kidnapping to essentially do so. There are very few laws in place that prevent child abduction, and those that are in place are not enforced. Immigrants who kidnap children should be removed from the country. My daughter's abductor, after receiving a two-year federal prison sentence for her crimes, received her green card so she can legally stay in the United States.”

The Office of Children's Issues at the Department of State was established to assist parents whose children have been unlawfully removed from the country. The OCI assists the remaining parent and strives to protect those children who have been victimized in these types of cases. Considering thousands of child custody cases are fought across national borders each year, the assistance of the OCI can be invaluable. Litigating custody, especially across international borders where conflicting orders may exist can be difficult if not impossible. The OCI aims to assist in these cases by enhancing an understanding of the many complex laws, both domestic and international that may be applicable to a particular case.

However, OCI has significant limitations, including the fact that they cannot represent your abducted child in a foreign court. OCI does provide a list of lawyers in foreign countries who at times have worked pro bono on abduction cases. However, there are no obligations by any of these lawyers to take a case, and it is up to each Chasing Parent to work out all arrangements. The reality is that ‘pro bono’ sounds like a nice idea, but it is an unrealistic expectation.

Immediate suggestions that could allow the dedicated staff at OCI to be more helpful include the following:

1. Creating and distributing useful, concise information for chasing parents, law enforcement, and court personnel regarding all areas of IPCA. The use of digital media combined and supported by printed content is critical.
2. The development of an independent website outside of the Department of State’s website. This website must be easy to navigate, include audio and digital feeds, and must be accessible to individuals in various languages.
3. OCI must actively support advocates and lawmakers who are seeking to pass child abduction prevention laws. Support by OCI in this area can increase the visibility of the issues of child abduction while also increasing lawmaker and judiciary awareness.
4. Dissemination of information on the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program.
5. Dissemination of information on the ‘Prevent Departure Program’, and dedicated resources established to assist lawyers and Chasing Parents seeking assistance under this program.
6. Increases in outreach toward documented and un-documented aliens about OCI, and the rights of their U.S. child-citizen.
7. Increase in personnel to support the tremendous workload of the OCI staff.

Peter Thomas Senese, who produced and narrated the important documentary film on international parental child abduction titled, Chasing Parents: Racing Into the Storms of International Parental Child Abduction added, “One child criminally abducted and illegally detained overseas is one child too many. However, we are not referring to one child. We are referring to hundreds of thousands of our nation’s child-citizens who are at risk of abduction.

“Unfortunately, due to outdated data and research, we really do not know how large of a problem we have on our hands, but I suspect it is much greater than we know or want to accept. One thing that is common amongst the vast majority of Chasing Parents is that none of us expected to have our child or children stolen. It realistically can happen to a very large portion of our population. I hope that all concerned citizens will contact their Senators and Representatives and urge them to support and sign the International Child Abduction Prevention Act known in Washington as HR3240. This bill is critical. And I want to repeat that most targeted parents who had their child criminally abducted never saw it coming. Due to the demographic composition of our nation, few parents and their children are immune to this threatening plague.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk concluded early on in my child abduction prevention advocacy I was asked, "Where is the public outcry?" My response at that time was that if you are a parent attempting to prevent your child from a criminal abduction you are focused on that issue. If tragically your child has already been abducted, then you are devastated and grieving. I am happy to report that through my volunteerism in this area, I have had the great honor of getting to know some extraordinary parents. The days of quiet acceptance of this crime are over. Parents are uniting together all over the U.S. to ensure that their voices are finally heard and demanding that their children no longer be marginalized and that they be protected. Preventative laws can and will help curb the unacceptable numbers of abductions from occurring. My heart breaks for those children who remain criminally detained in foreign nations and their grieving and left behind families. It is my greatest hope that through bringing this hideous crime to the forefront of the public’s attention that it will someday be possible to reunite these children and their families.”

Speaking on the crisis of IPCA, author Peter Thomas Senese said, “With limited accurate data, an uneducated judiciary, an uninformed public, difficulty in passing child abduction prevention legislation, non-compliance of international treaties, and heavy financial burdens placed on Chasing Parents desperately trying to protect their kidnapped children, this really is the world turned upside-down, and it is going to get much worse for our children and their parents unless dramatic steps in all areas are immediately implemented.”

jeudi 22 avril 2010

Florida Child Abduction Act Passes Unanimously Senate and House Floor Votes

Today members of Florida’s Senate joined the members of Florida’s House of Representatives in demonstrating great leadership by passing unanimously Florida’s groundbreaking ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ sponsored by child advocates Representative Darryl Rouson (St. Petersburg) and Senator Eleanor Sobel (Ft. Lauderdale). HB 787 will become law once Governor Crist signs the bill, as he expected to within the next few days.

On a House floor vote that occurred yesterday, HB 787 passed unanimously with 115 ‘Yeas’ to 0 ‘Nays’. Today, the Senate unanimously passed the legislation with 38 ‘Yeas’ and 0 ‘Nays’ votes.

Representative Darryl Rouson, who sponsored and guided the landmark legislation through the House of Representatives said, “Our children in the state of Florida have every right to be protected from any and all forms of abuse. The ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will in fact protect our children from the abuse associated with the criminal act of child stealing. With an estimated 16,000 international child abductions alone in our country last year – a number that is growing at 40% per year - how could we as lawmakers not act expeditiously in order to protect our state’s and nation’s future: our treasured children? We simply cannot. It required a great deal of work, but today we now wait for Governor Crist’s signing of this bill into law. I say with great pride that the lawmakers of the great state of Florida realized the importance of this law and acted unilaterally for the best interest of the children of our state.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill author, stated, “Today is a wondrous day! What began as not much more that a mother’s dream is now almost a reality. When I began writing Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ it was my greatest desire that my home state put into place child abduction prevention legislation that could be utilized as precedence for other states. As soon as Governor Crist signs the proposed legislation into law, we will have that ability. Words cannot adequately express my appreciation for the bipartisan support exhibited while working together in creating legislation to protect all children. This is a moment I have long awaited and showcases democracy at its finest. What an outstanding day for the children and families of Florida.”

According to leading experts and advocates who focus in the area of parental child abduction, prevention law is critical. Outspoken children’s advocate and author of ‘Chasing The Cyclone’, Peter Thomas Senese, one of the bill’s lead advocates, added, “Child abduction prevention laws are a necessity and an integral part of each state’s ability to protect the best interests of their children-citizens who are at risk of abduction. Without a court’s ability to consider risk factors associated with a potential threat of abduction combined with the capability to act in ways that would prevent this crime from happening, the growing malignant plague of international parental child abduction that has silently swept through our nation will continue to increase. What is at risk as a nation is the disappearance of our most precious commodity: our children. And with international parental child abduction growing at approximately rapidly, laws such as Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will be our nation’s first line of defense against international parental child abduction. I suspect that many states that do not have preventive laws have now watched the great leadership Florida’s legislators demonstrated today. As a successful Chasing Parent who knows all too well the horrors associated with chasing the cyclones of international parental child abduction, I am deeply pleased in the knowledge that parents and their children who will come after me will benefit from the extensive effort put forth. No child or parent should ever have to know what it is like to have one parent attempt to steal and disappear with your child. This law will prevent much of this from happening. And I want to add that so much thanks must be extended to the amazing writer and spirit of the legislation, Carolyn Ann Vlk, and to Representative Darryl Rouson and his legislative aide Henry Moseley, Senator Eleanor Sobel and her legislative aide Nick Matthews, and the rest of the team that put their hearts, spirit, and best effort into guiding the passage of this what we expect to be an incredible law. Today is a great day for not only the children of Florida, but children our entire nation.”

Chasing Parent Captain William Lake, the father of Mary Victoria, who remains in Japan despite court orders seeking her rightful return stated, “ I am so pleased with today’s outcome in Florida’s Senate. It is my hope that through the passage of this law, children will no longer be deprived from the loving relationships of both parents. Unfortunately, too many children who are abducted come to believe that the left behind parent does not care or love them, when this is not true or accurate. No child should ever have to experience abduction and the denial of the other parent due to deceitful actions by the other parent. In my lobbying of this legislation, it was my desire to have a law passed that will protect innocent children from ever experiencing the unfair storms of parental abduction.”

If signed by child advocate Governor Crist as expected, HB 787 – The ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will go into effect on January 1st, 2011.

Carolyn Ann Vlk concluded, “As the bill’s author, I would like to share with the people of my state that none of this would have been possible if it were not for Representative Darryl Rouson. He is a champion of our children. And Senator Eleanor Sobel acted in great ways to protect the children of our state. I want to thank each of them, along with their respective legislative aides, Henry Moseley and Nick Matthews, for all they have done.”

For more information, please visit:

mercredi 14 avril 2010

Landmark Child Abduction Prevention Law On Horizon In Florida.

Lawmakers sitting on child advocate Representative Snyder’s ‘Criminal and Civil Policy Committee’ voted unanimously for the advancement of Representative Darryl Rouson and Senator Sobel’s sponsored ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill. The ‘Criminal and Civil Policy Committee’ was the last of six legislative committees that Carolyn Ann Vlk’s authored legislation needed to pass through. The bill, if now approved on both the Senate and on the House floors and then signed by Governor Crist will establish risk factors associated with potential parental child abduction and further provide courts with remedies to prevent a criminal abduction from occurring.

Today was a great day for the present and future children of Florida. With approximately 400,000 criminal parental child abductions occurring each year in this country, including nearly 11,000 international parental child abductions, the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill will give courts the ability to act before the crime against innocent, defenseless children occurs.

Carolyn Ann Vlk said immediately after Representative Snyder’s committee’s ruling, “ With all of my heart, I want to thank Representative Darryl Rouson for his incredible and tireless efforts to protect the children of the state of Florida. Representative Rouson has acted with compassion while demonstrating incredible and necessary leadership the children of our state and their parents so desperately need.

“When I first set out to author the legislation that would become the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’, I have to admit it was no easy task. At the time that I sent out detailed packages of information regarding the growing severity of parental child abduction in our nation, including the fact that Florida had a very limited child abduction prevention law in place to dozens of lawmakers that I solicited, it was only Representative Darryl Rouson out of this group that immediately recognized the importance and need to have the state pass stronger child abduction prevention laws. At the time, I did not know just how dedicated of an advocate Representative Rouson is - a true legislative leader and complete defender of our children. I have such deep respect and admiration for him. When Representative Rouson and his legislative aide, Henry Moseley, invited me into their offices and began discussing child abduction, I realized I was sitting with two tenacious, intelligent men who really cared about our children. It was then that I realized Florida had a legitimate chance to pass preventive laws against child abduction.

“It has not been an easy road traveled on, but Representative Rouson and Henry Moseley worked long and hard at this bill. They have both been incredible. And I must acknowledge how Senator Eleanor Sobel soon realized the importance of this bill, and quickly sponsored it in the Senate. Between Representative Rouson and his dynamo legislative aid Henry Moseley, and, Senator Eleanor Sobel and her astute legislative assistant Nick Matthews, we had a strong nucleus.

“And when I reached out for much needed assistance, an incredible group of activist organized very quickly and worked tirelessly at educating the lawmakers here in our state’s capitol. It was remarkable that these caring individuals showed up - with Peter Thomas Senese and his family flying in from Los Angeles, and Ken Connelly flying in from Texas, and Captain William Lake coming down from the Pan Handle – all in the name of protecting our children. It was due to all of these combined efforts, and the fact that our lawmakers in this state really do now understand what is at risk, that today I am more optimistic than ever that the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will soon become law.”

Next up for HB787 and the identical SB1862 is for each bill to be read two more times in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. After the third reading in each legislative branch, the bill is then brought for a floor vote. With three committees in each branch voting unanimously for the bill’s passage thus far, it is expected that the bill will quickly pass Florida’s legislative body and brought before Governor Crist for signing.

Peter Thomas Senese, the author of ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ added after the vote, “Today we have seen how our nation’s perception of the cruel criminal act of parental child abduction is quickly changing from a non-event to the extraordinarily dangerous, abusive, and hideous crime against our children and their targeted parents that this act really is. With Florida’s Senate and House combining for six unanimous approval votes to pass the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill, surely our nation and the world has taken notice.

“Unfortunately, our nation, and the world for this matter, has a growing epidemic called parental child abduction on its hands. According to various reports, international parental child abduction is increasing at a rate of nearly 40% per year. This is a giant leap in the number of international abductions – abductions that all too often do not have a positive outcome. So, in Florida, and due to a giant effort by Carolyn Ann Vlk, the lawmakers have acted swiftly. I applaud Representative Rouson and his legislative aid, the incredible Henry Moseley for taking the legislative lead on this important bill. And words of thanks and deep gratitude must be directed toward Senator Eleanor Sobel and her legislative aid Nick Matthews. But more than anyone, I want to thank my friend Carolyn Ann Vlk to have the courage and dedication to write the bill and work as hard as she has in order to protect our children. But we’re not done, the bills must pass both the senate’s and the house’s floor vote, then Governor Christ must sign this into law.”

Captain William Lake, the Floridian father of a young girl criminally kidnapped by the child’s mother and illegally detained in Japan said, “I am pleased to see that international parental child abduction is now beginning to be understood by policymakers the way it must. But my true hope, particularly in this state, is that the judges and our courts realize just how critical it is for them to act carefully and not blindly in the name of our children. They must actually enforce the laws they are responsible to enforce. So many abductions can be prevented if the courts act with caution and pay attention to warning signs and risk factors.”

For more information on Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill, please visit For more information on Peter Thomas Senese, International Parental Child Abduction, and ‘Chasing The Cyclone’, please visit