mercredi 31 mars 2010

Carolyn Ann Vlk talks about Florida's Landmark Child Abduction Prevention Act bill.

An Interview with Carolyn Ann Vlk, Author of Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill.

Carolyn Ann Vlk is the author and writer of Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act bill. If the legislation becomes law, thousands of children and their parents in the state of Florida will be thankful that a tenacious mother who was initially trying to protect her own son from being abducted had the brains and audacity to try and write a law that would not only protect her own child, but children everywhere in the state.

Today, Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ is moving swiftly toward becoming law. With two Senate Committees and one House Committee all voting unanimously for the bill’s passage into law, we were able to ask the tireless Carolyn Ann Vlk some important questions.

1. Florida's 'Child Abduction Prevention Act' bill is being referred to as potential landmark legislation if the bill is enacted into law. What can you tell us about this legislation?

This legislation is long overdue. When I first began researching child abduction I was shocked to find that most states, including Florida, had very little, if any preventative laws in place that would preempt abduction from occurring. It has been and continues to be my desire to set the State of Florida apart by creating laws that would protect our children, and by doing so, demonstrate Florida’s commitment to the safety of our children while also creating model legislation for other states to follow.

2. What is the present condition of parental child abduction in America?

The statistics are staggering. Approximately every three minutes a family member in our country abducts a child. The government and institutional reports state that there are approximately 380,000 parental abductions each year, though many individuals believe this number is much higher. So, child abduction is not a new problem, but it is a fast-growing one, nearing epidemic proportions. Yet, and despite the increases in both domestic and international parental abductions, preventative legislation has been slow in coming. I believe that a lack of education exists across the board, which only furthers the systems in place charged to protect the welfare of our children, from effectively doing so. Parents, attorneys, family court personnel, law enforcement officers, and policy makers have been uninformed, uneducated, and untrained in the areas of parental child abduction. Research is this area has been not forthcoming quick enough, either. This ignorance has served to empower potential abductors, who typically show little concern over the crimes they openly commit. I remain hopeful that change is imminent as we now have the attention of the people in this state and our lawmakers. We do have the ability to implement changes to better protect all children. Part of this change is Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’.

3. What would most readers be shocked to learn with respect to parental child abduction?

There are many things that stand out. That data from the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) indicates that a family member commits 78 % of all child abductions. Also, that nearly 70% of all law enforcement agencies do not have guidelines or the resources to respond to family abduction. Additionally, there are nearly 400,000 parental child abductions that occur each year. Of this total, it is believed that there are over 10,000 criminal international parental child abductions that occur each year when considering those cases that are reported, that purposefully choose not to report, or for cases where reporting is not allowed: for example, political asylum and dual-green card cases cannot file for a Hague application. In all international abduction cases the financial burden of the recovery of the abducted child falls solely on the left behind parent. And, in the cases of international abduction, many of these children never come home. Sadly, too many internationally abducted children have died due to this crime against out children. The fact is that parental abduction is a crime that is increasing dramatically each year, and there are few preventive laws in place that assess risk before it is too late.

4. What dangers does a child face when abducted internationally, and does this differ from a domestic abduction?

Any abduction, whether domestic or international, places a child in unnecessary danger. Children are often forced to assume a new identity and adjust to a new life away from everything and everyone that they have known. The abducting parent becomes a fugitive and thus, the child is forced to live a life on the run. The psychological damage that occurs to a child forced into this circumstance is immeasurable. I have now had the opportunity to have contact with adults who were abducted as children. All carry the scars of this abuse with them to this day. In speaking with them, I can tell you that the pain is still fresh some 20-30 years later. Living a life in hiding can also deny a child the right to an education, medical care, and lower their standard of living to the poverty level as the parent attempts to remain undetected. Parental alienation is real, and is to be expected. And even if the child is later returned, this type of damage can prevent a child from bonding with the left behind family. Unfortunately, in some of the most extreme cases, the abducting parent is so psychologically ill that the child is placed in circumstances where his or her life is in danger. These situations include being taken into countries where human life has little worth, being sold into the sexual slavery market or even being killed as a retaliatory action against the other parent.

5. For a parent who has had their child stolen from them by the other parent, are there significant differences between a domestic child recovery effort and an international child recovery effort?

The difficulties of locating, and the chances of a successful return become much more difficult and often times impossible once a child is removed from the United States. Locating a child abducted internationally is an extremely difficult task. The abducting parent has already planned well in advance and likely has assumed another identity along with the child. Essentially, they have the ability of going underground and then taking on a new identity. If you are fortunate enough to locate your child, you will then find that foreign governments are not required to abide by any civil order of the United States, and most do not. It becomes necessary to have legal counsel in both the United States and the country the child has been abducted to. This typically requires for the left behind parent to file a Hague Application – that is if they know where the child was taken to, and if that country is a signatory of the convention. Many nations, including most in the Middle East and Asia are not. Other nations such as Brazil and Germany do not uphold the spirit of the treaty they signed. And as you can imagine, the travel between the two countries, court costs and recovery expenses can quickly mount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more . . . and all this is at the expense of the parent who has been left behind. Precious few of these parents possess the resources necessary to become a Chasing Parent in an attempt to gain the return of a child criminally abducted out of the United States.

6. You are the author of Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill. Why did you set out to write this bill, and what is the likelihood that his bill will pass into law?

I am parent of a child at risk of international abduction. I began this journey in early 2007 in an effort to protect my own child. My husband had begun threatening to abduct our son and take him overseas, so I began researching ways to prevent that from happening. I opened a child abduction prevention case through the NCMEC and set out to learn everything I could about how to best ensure the safety of my child. As my knowledge increased, my caseworker at NCMEC began referring other abduction prevention parents to me. I began attempting to educate them and direct and connect them to resources and prevention methods. As I listened to their stories I was able to better understand where the system fails our children. I have learned that the family court systems needs to recognize the risk factors present for potential abductors and to implement the necessary safeguards. Since that I time, I have been actively advocating for change. The proposed legislation is the culmination of my efforts to achieve that goal.

Today, we are making steady progress towards improving the child protection law in Florida. I am pleased that the bill has passed unanimously through two committees in the Senate and the one House of Representatives committee. All indications are that the voices of those uniting together to plea for abduction prevention legislation are being heard.

7. Will this bill, if it becomes law, reduce the number of abductions in the state of Florida?

Absolutely! Proper risk assessment and the implementation of preventative measures in cases where a credible risk of abduction exists can drastically reduce the numbers of families lives impacted by the tragedy of child abduction. With nearly 400,000 reported cases in our nation alone, there is no question that this law will impact Florida, and hopefully, other states will then follow.

8. Representative Darryl Rouson is a known child activist and defender of children's rights. What is it like working with him as well as Senator Eleanor Sobel?

In July 2007 I sent out a very large number of letters to Florida politicians requesting assistance and/or advice on child abduction prevention measures. Representative Darryl Rouson was the only lawmaker who stepped forward, and expressed great concern over the information I shared with him and his legislative aid, Henry Mosley. Representative Rouson was shocked to learn just how sever and dangerous it is for children who face abduction. He suggested we work together to find a solution to this national tragedy by creating law that would allow the courts to assess risk factors associated with a potential child abduction, and further create laws that would allow a judge to address these threats. He has remained the strongest advocate for the children of our State, and his dedication and perseverance should be recognized and applauded by all. He is a true warrior in the fight for justice for those members of our society whose voices are often not heard, our children. I will forever remain indebted to him for his tireless efforts and staunch support as together we strive to implement this model legislation in the great state of Florida.

Once HB 787 was filed, Senator Eleanor Sobel stepped forward immediately with an offer to introduce it in the Senate as SB 1862. When we met for the first time I was immensely grateful to see that Senator Sobel shares the same type of commitment to protect our most vulnerable members of society: our children. Since that time, I have gotten to see just how compassionate and dedicated Senator Sobel is to the cause of children. She is a true warrior, and she is extraordinarily respected in Florida’s Senate. Without Senator Sobel, the hope and promise that children will have protective laws soon in place in this state that will protect them from abduction may not be the reality that it is without Senator Sobel’s leadership in the Senate. It has been a pleasure to work with her and I have deep admiration for the work that she is doing to protect the children of our state.

9. Working on such a monumental piece of legislation surely requires a team effort. What can you say about your team?

I believe it would be difficult to ever duplicate a finer team as the individuals who are committed day-in and day-out on making Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ law. Unquestionably, each member of our core group possesses such passion and dedication to the cause of protecting children. And we each bring something different to the table in the way of expertise and experience. Our desire to correct the deficiency in existing laws is the common thread that inspires us all. I am humbled and appreciative for the effort that everyone has expended.

The assistance of Peter Thomas Senese, the author of the critically acclaimed ‘Chasing The Cyclone’, and the producer/narrator of ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms of International Parental Child Abduction’, to bring this legislation to the forefront of Florida’s legislators has been immeasurable. Peter Thomas’ professionalism, dedication, organization, commitment, and skills as a writer, speaker, filmmaker, and advocate has had a far-reaching effect. Whether it was sending a vast number of Florida’s lawmakers copies of ‘Chasing The Cyclone’, or directing them to view the documentary film on abduction, ‘Chasing Parents’, or creating the bill’s website, or flying into Tallahassee to speak before our legislative government, or paying for airline tickets so other advocates can petition our Senators and Representatives, Peter Thomas Senese has been open, fully committed, and unselfish. His willingness to share his personal story as that of a chasing parent while recovering his own child has touched the hearts of many, including the legislators he has met or communicated with. I am eternally grateful for his dedication, his ability to educate our lawmakers by providing them with copies of ‘Chasing The Cylclone’ and creating the documentary ‘Chasing Parents’ – all have played a significant role in creating further understanding for our lawmakers. I deeply respect his commitment to assist with the implementation of a law that will prevent other families from experiencing the tragedy of child abduction. Peter Thomas Senese’ impact has been far reaching.

Ken Connelly, the author of ‘Throwing Stones’ has been completely committed to the cause of protecting children from the fate of parental child abduction – a tragic and terrible experience he and his brother faced as children. Ken’s willingness to fly to Tallahassee and advocate for this bill to become law has had a substantial and meaningful weight upon lawmakers as he was a victim of the exact type of crime this legislation is trying to prevent. Ken has provided lawmakers with copies of ‘Throwing Stones’ – his fascinating book on child abduction, while also directing them to ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into the Storms of International Parental Child Abduction’ he consulted on. His ability to share the tragedy of abduction while also pointing out how critical it is to have preventive laws in place in this state have been well-heard by our lawmakers. Unquestionably, his desire to educate others in all areas of abduction have been immeasurable, and this bill is that much closer to reality because of Ken’s outspoken advocacy. Ken is direct, honest, committed, and highly informed on all areas of child abduction. It is an honor and a privilege to work with him.

Captain William Lake is the loving father of a young girl who has been criminally detained and remains in Japan. It is now going on six years when Captain Lake’s daughter first started her journey into the world of abduction. Captain Lake has been a full and complete source of information – you could see and hear the sense of concern others have regarding child abduction – surely they do not wish to be in the shoes that Captain Lake and his family are presently in. Nevertheless, Captain Lake has demonstrated consistent unselfishness and commitment. He has come to Tallahassee on several occasions to testify before both the Senate and the House. He has spent endless hours meeting with legislators and their legislative aids, all in the name of protecting other children. I am most grateful to Captain Lake’s unmovable commitment to protect the children of our state.

Henry Mosley, Representative Darryl Rouson’s legislative aid has been a dynamo up on Tallahassee. From the beginning, Henry recognized just how severe of an issue child abduction in our state and our country is, and how failure to have preventive laws in place only aids a would-be abductor. With this realization, Henry spent a great deal of time researching and understanding all the critical components of child abduction. And then armed with this knowledge, he has worked the with great efficiency, he has helped orchestrate this bill’s movement into both the House and Senate with great fluidity and efficiency. Without Henry, I doubt this bill would have moved as quickly and as far along as it has. Henry Mosley is as hard-working as they come, is extraordinarily intelligent, honest, and committed to the welfare and best interest of the children of Florida.

So that’s our core team: one parent who has tried to protect her child from being abducted, one adult who was parentally abducted, one parent who presently has a child still missing, one parent who recovered their child, and one legislative aid, like the rest of us, who is committed to protecting our children.

10. Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act bill has had two Florida Senate committees pass the legislation unanimously, and, one House committee thus far has also unanimously passed the bill. What is next, and can we expect this bill to become law?

Next up is to be put on the agenda to be heard in the Senate in Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations. In the House we need to be heard in Policy Council and Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council. In order to be heard we must be placed on the agenda. The public can help ensure that this occurs by contacting the Chairs of the Councils to inform them that child abduction prevention is an urgent and critical necessity for our state and is in the best interest of our children. I am confident that if we have the opportunity to be heard that indeed the Child Abduction Prevention Act can become precedent setting legislation.

11. What's at stake?

The lives of hundreds of thousands of children each year whose lives are forever interrupted and negatively impacted by this preventable crime.

12. Is there anything else you would like to add?

If ever there was a time when the children of our state needed the public to step up it is now. Please take a few minutes of your day to contact the Senators and Representatives and voice your opinion regarding the critical nature of implementing this legislation. Think of your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and neighbors. No one is immune from this crime as it crosses all racial and socio economic barriers. Please unite with us and let your voice be heard and help us to prevent this heinous crime.

Florida ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ Support Swells As State Lawmakers Realize Prevention Is Critical To Best Interest Of Children

Two Senate Committees and One House Committee have all voted unanimously to pass the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill.

Representative Marcelo Llorente, the Chairman of Florida’s House of Representatives’ Policy Council, is a compassionate advocate for children’s rights and their safety. As House Bill 787 and adjoining Senate Bill 1862 continue to gain unilateral bipartisan support in both of Florida’s legislative bodies, as best indicated by three unanimous committee votes of support (two in the Senate and one in the House), it is becoming clear lawmakers in Florida are demonstrating great leadership in advancing model legislation that would preempt the growing number of parental child abductions that occur in the state each year.

Next up for this promising legislative bill that would provide courts the ability and responsibility to consider risk factors associated with a potential parental child abduction, and, the ability to implement protocols and remedies that would preempt these criminal acts against children from occurring, is child advocate Chairman Llorente’s Policy Council. It is anticipated that Chairman Llorente, a rising star in Florida’s political arena who has aspirations to be elected the next mayor of Miami in 2011, will agenda Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ in the coming days. Throughout his impactful political career, which included being elected one of Florida’s youngest lawmakers ever, Representative Llorente has demonstrated a long history of acting for the best interest of children in the state.

Florida resident and one of the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill’s lead supporters, Captain William Lake, has been fighting desperately for nearly six years for the legal return of his young daughter who was criminally abducted to the international child abduction safe-harbor nation of Japan said, “April 11th will be my daughter’s 13th birthday. Over six years of her life have been stolen from the two of us. I am both sad that this bill wasn’t around to help me and happy that the passage of this into law will help prevent this kind of theft happening to any other parent and victimized child. As the plague of divorce sweeps across our nation, it’s time for the family courts to realize that the best interest of the child is just that: the best interest of the child. This bill will safeguard our children’s safety and their inalienable rights to the love of a parent who is desirous and capable of providing nurturing love and support back to that child.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the indefatigable Floridian mother from St. Petersburg who has written the model legislation after realizing the state of Florida had limited laws that would assist in preventing her child from being internationally abducted by the child’s other parent after repeated threats made to do so said, “It is undeniable that all children should be guaranteed the right to protection from abuse, harmful influences and exploitation. The unanimous approval the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ has received at both the Senate and the House levels illustrates that the policy makers of Florida agree. I remain hopeful that SB 1862 and HB 787 will soon become model legislation that can be utilized by other states to create or improve their child abduction prevention laws. We ask that you recognize our children’s often silent voices and contact your legislators today in support of this critical legislation.”

‘Chasing The Cyclone’ author and the producer/narrator of ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction’ Peter Thomas Senese added, “It is common sense that preemptive action against any hardship may lead to a dramatic reduction or end all-together that hardship. In medicine, it is demonstrated and accepted that preemptive healthcare and healthy lifestyles reduces illness. In this same light, preemptive child abduction laws would dramatically reduce the number of crimes against both child and targeted parent. This is a common-sense bill for all involved, and the likely cost savings to the state would be substantial due to a reduction of resources allocated for court and law enforcement expenditures related to an actual abduction and the ensuing recovery efforts. Not mentioned is the massive – not substantial – but massive amount of money Chasing Parents who race across international borders would save when they attempt to rescue and bring safely home their child. Unfortunately, on international cases of child abduction, the victimized parent is on their own financially as there are limited government resources available to assist them in bringing their child home – even though these types of abductions typically break both state and federal law. Imagine that: your child is criminally stolen to a foreign country, and if you don’t have the financial resources to fight the fight, in more likelihood, you’ve lost your child. Now consider your child is stolen and taken outside of the country by the other parent, but you have no idea where the child is. Well, at that point, unless you privately raise an army to find your child, you will never see that son or daughter again. So, with great enthusiasm, I am very pleased to know that the lawmakers of Florida are listening to the voices of both abducted children and parents affected by the crime of abduction who have worked tirelessly to have this bill passed into law. The ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ is unquestionably in the best interest of the children of Florida. Finally, on a personal note I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the bill’s sponsors, Representative Darryl Rouson and Senator Eleanor Sobel, for their hard work and demonstrated leadership in their endless advocacy for children.”

Charles Hamilton, a Chasing Parent said, “My child was illegally internationally parentally kidnapped in December 1996 to Spain during a divorce in which the courts were alerted by me with substantial evidence that my former spouse was about to abduct my child. This included evidence of two one-way airline tickets in the name of my spouse and child. Unfortunately, the Spanish Embassy in Los Angeles issued my former spouse new passports, which made it very easy for my former spouse to steal my daughter, Dakota Carmen Hamilton. If preventive laws existed at the time, I am sure that the love of my life, my daughter, would not have been criminally abducted. Florida’s law is critical for the children of the state.”

Florida resident and writer of the groundbreaking Synclair-Cannon California state child abduction prevention law observed, “’The Child Abduction Prevention Act’ aims at hindering an escalating crime that victimizes thousands of children each year in Florida. Courts and legal experts concur that parental abduction is child abuse, yet the court system often ignores the blatant red flags of parental kidnappings. Because of the preemptive measures that HB 787/ SB 1862 offers, I believe Tallahassee has the answer to reduce the number of children illegally pulled away from their homes by giving the courts proper direction on how to stop this crime. This House and Senate bill must become law.”

According to various government and private institute reports, it is estimated that slightly under 400,000 parental child abductions occur in the United States each year. Of this, it is anticipated that nearly 10,000 international cases occur, many of which are not reported or accounted for.

Parental Child Abduction is a crime against innocent, defenseless children that are reliant upon laws in each state to protect their safety. The Florida ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill, if passed into law, will guard against child abduction in the state.

The children’s advocates and lawmakers who support this bill urge you to sign the petition in support of the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’. It can be found at

samedi 27 mars 2010

Florida Senate's Judiciary Committee passes Child Abduction Prevention Act SB1862


March 26th, 2010


Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ Bill Overwhelmingly Passes Crucial Senate Judiciary Committee. Momentum Grows For Bill’s Passage Into Law.

Hope grows for tens of thousands of children in Florida and hundreds of thousand of children in the nation as Florida Senate’s Judiciary Committee supports the Child Abduction Prevention Act bill.

After traveling 3,000 miles from Los Angeles, child advocate, successful Chasing Parent, producer and narrator of the ground-breaking documentary film ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction’, and the author of the highly anticipated book publication ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ Peter Thomas Senese said after his impassioned testimony before the Florida Senate’s Judiciary Committee, “Today, I am extraordinarily pleased with the Florida Senate’s Judiciary Committee’s overwhelming decision to boldly share with the citizens of Florida, and for that matter, the world, that lawmakers in this great state are serious about preventing the intolerable, cruel, and at times deadly crime of parental child abduction hundreds of thousands of our defenseless and innocent child-citizens must painstakingly endure each year, that is of course, if they are lucky enough to survive their kidnapping all together. Under today’s exemplary leadership of Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Joe Negron, the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill was passed unanimously (9 Yeas and 0 Nay’s).

“Unquestionably, SB1862 and the House’s adjoining bill HB787, if passed into law, will provide courts and judges mandated with the responsibility to protect our children’s welfare and safety with the opportunity to consider apparent risk factors that are indicative that a parental child abduction is either planned or in progress, and, it further provides ways courts may act in order to preempt the criminal abduction of an unsuspecting, defenseless child from their targeted parent. Additionally, this bill, when passed into law, will place accountability onto the courts and its judges. No longer will the pleading voices of Florida’s citizens who come to court urgently seeking a judge’s assistance related to a planned or in progress abduction fall on deft ears. If this bill becomes law, everything changes.

“As a loving and committed father who extensively searched for my own child in multiple countries and who successfully litigated in several foreign jurisdictions, I cannot express how critical it is for preventative laws to be passed and upheld everywhere. Today, the state of Florida demonstrated great national and global leadership. On this note, I would like to personally thank the bill’s sponsor, Representative Darryl Rouson, who has worked tirelessly and stood unbowed in his campaign not only to educate the state’s other esteemed lawmakers about the growing worldwide epidemic that destroys many of the lives who cross its path, but to earnestly protect the lives of our children everywhere.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk, a remarkable mother desperately trying to prevent the international abduction of her own child, and, the critical bill’s author provided the Senate’s Committee testimony from the perspective of a parent attempting to prevent their child from being stolen overseas. Ms. Vlk said, “I am immensely pleased that the Florida Senate and House of Representatives members are realizing that child abduction prevention law is a necessity in the name of our children’s best interest. In today’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s unanimous vote to move the bill through committee, it is clear that our lawmakers are realizing the necessity of this bill.”

Captain William Lake, who presently is seeking for the rightful return of his child who was criminally abducted to the parental abductor safe-haven nation of Japan added, “As a father who has a criminally abducted daughter, Mary Victoria, residing illegally in Japan with her non-Japanese national mother, I cannot express how critical it is for the State of Florida as a whole to understand and address the issues at hand regarding international parental child abduction. Unquestionably, it is through preventive laws that we will realize a dramatic reduction in these types of crimes. I am very hopeful that the political leadership of my state of Florida is not only recognizing the importance of this bill, but voicing an opinion for the rest of the nation about the need to protect our children before a crime of abduction occurs against them.”

Child Advocate Representative Darryl Rouson, the House bill’s sponsor remarked, “I am extremely pleased with today’s Senate Judiciary Committee passage of the Child Abduction Prevention Act bill. Obviously there is more work to do; however, it is becoming clearer by the day that my fellow lawmakers realize just how critical this bill is for all children residing in the state of Florida. Unquestionably, when the Child Abduction Prevention Act becomes law, the safety of our children in this state will increase substantially. And that, our children’s safety, is what this is all about.”

Senator Eleanor Sobel, the Senate’s sponsor of the SB1862 stated today at the hearing her satisfaction with the committee’s passage of the bill.

It has been reported by various United States Government records that there are nearly 400,000 parental child abductions that occur each year. Various studies indicate that there exists hundreds of thousands more than what has been accounted for. Of this total, it is unofficially estimated that there are over 10,000 criminal international parental child abductions each year. Due to incredible hardships faced by Chasing Parents left behind in the wake of their child’s abduction, too many of this nation’s stolen children are never returned. Common difficulties Chasing Parents encounter include the mountainous and complete financial burden a parent faces in attempting to rescue their child even though child abduction is a federal and state crime. In addition, since most of these types of abductions are well planned and schemed, many abducted children literally disappear with their abducting parent. Notwithstanding, many nations who are signatories of the Hague Convention do not uphold the spirit and law of the treaty to which they signed while other nations have not signed any international agreement at all.

If Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ becomes law, it is anticipated that a significant number of would-be abductions would be prevented, and financial relief would occur for an already financially strained legal system.

For more information on parental child abduction, please visit

lundi 22 mars 2010

florida's House Bill 787 Advances: Hope Spreads For Children

The State of Florida’s legislatures are voicing their grave concern over the growing criminal epidemic that is known as parental child abduction.

Today in Tallahassee, the House of Representative’s Committee on ‘Public Safety And Domestic Security Policy’, led by Committee Chairman Kevin Ambler, voted Unanimously on child advocate and House Representative Darryl Rouson’s House sponsored bill known as ‘The Child Abduction Prevention Act’ (HB787).

The next step for this critical legislation is for the bill to now be placed on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. Committee Chairman Senator Negron is anticipated to place SB1862 before the Judiciary Committee in the upcoming weeks. Two weeks ago, the ‘Senate’s Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee’s unanimous vote of eight ‘Yeas’ and zero ‘Nays’ in support of passing the proposed act that defines risk factors related to a potential parental child abduction, and offers remedies that the Florida courts should consider when dealing with a potential parental child abduction.

Senator Eleanor Sobel is the Senate’s sponsoring legislature of the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’.

Representative Rouson has worked tirelessly in trying to bring to light the hardship innocent children-victims must endure in the wake of a parental abduction. In sponsoring the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’, Representative Rouson has made it clear that children shall no longer be used as pawns to inflict abuse by the act of one parent criminally abducting a child against court orders from the other parent.

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the author of the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’, stated today, “By identifying risk factors and preventative measures of abduction, it will be possible to reduce the number of families touched by the tragedy of child abduction. I am pleased by the committee’s unanimous decision to move this important legislation forward so we may finally protect Florida’s children and families. We as a group have worked very hard at trying to educate others about the seriousness of this growing problem. It appears that our voices are being heard. I hope that one day soon, the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will be passed into law, and the great state that I live in will send a message of intolerance to all those who chose not to act in the best interests of our children. Parental Child Abduction is a serious and grave crime against both child and Chasing Parent. It is not to be toleratred.”

Representative Darryl Rouson, the guiding legislative force behind the bill said today, “This is a common sense bill that passed unanimously because it strengthens protection for our vulnerable children and worried parents. We are overjoyed that more abductions will be prevented. There is more work to be done; however, I am confident by the clear vote today that my fellow lawmakers in the wonderful state of Florida will realize how critical this bill is in the name not only of our children, but by passing this bill into law, a message of leadership and intolerance will be heard across the country. No child should be abducted if we can prevent this crime from happening. ‘The Child Abduction Prevention Act’ will stop many abductions.”

Captain William Lake, who also appeared before the House Committee guided by Representative Kevin Ambler said, “I am excited by the actions of the committee members today, and I will be returning to Tallahassee over the next month to make sure this good bill is signed into law. It is satisfying that the issues of education and prevention are coming into light. It is only through preventive laws that we will see a dramatic reduction in this crime against our children.” Captain Lake is a Chasing Parent who presently has a child who was criminally abducted to the non-Hague signatory country of Japan; a country known as a safe-harbor for child-abductor nationals. Today, Captain Lake continues to fight the fight needed to bring his child home.

Peter Thomas Senese, the author of ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ and producer of the documentary film ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms of International Parental Child Abduction’ added, “Today, a clear call to arms was heard in Florida’s legislature that child abduction will not be tolerated. I applaud my friends Carolyn Ann Vlk, Ken Connelly, and Captain Lake in their efforts to educate others of this serious crime. It is through our efforts as advocates of children that our experienced concern and understanding awakened the righteous hand of lawmakers, who are mothers and fathers, and children too. I commend Representative Kevin Ambler for his superior guidance today at the ‘Public Safety And Domestic Security Policy’ committee level. And unquestionably, Representative Darryl Rouson’s tireless and completely committed willingness to have this bill passed into law says so much about his willingness to protect the children of the state. Up next, are two more committees: one in the House and one in the Senate. But it is becoming clear: the citizens of Florida and its policymakers will no longer tolerate child abduction. There is great leadership coming out of Florida in the name of protecting our children. And the world today is not only watching, but it is applauding.”

mercredi 17 mars 2010

Florida HB787 Moves Forward To House Committee. Lawmakers and Advocates Press For Child Abduction Prevention Laws in Florida

St. Petersburg, Los Angeles, New York

MARCH 16th, 2010


Lawmakers in Florida’s Legislature Move Forward On ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ Bill As A Growing Number Of Citizens Express Intolerance Of Acts Of Parental Child Abduction.

Florida’s legislature is moving forward on a strong parental child abduction prevention bill as lawmakers in the state and across the country have come to realize the unmistakable immediate necessity to place protective laws against abduction in order to protect the hundreds of thousands of defenseless children who are criminally stolen and abused.

The ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ (CAPA) bill, known in the Florida Senate as SB1862 and in Florida’s House of Representatives as adjoining bill HB787, if passed, will amend Florida Statute §61.45 by adding certain risk factors of child abduction and provides a list of preventative measures a judge may use to prevent these abductions from occurring. Inclusion of these provisions will strengthen Florida’s weak law and bring it into conformity with the ‘Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act’ (UPACA), which has been enacted by ten states. In a nation where there are over 370,000 parental child abductions that occur each year, a number that apparently is growing, the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ clearly will prevent the number of abductions within the state of Florida, if passed.

The bill was filed by children’s advocate and champion Representative Daryl Rouson, and has been referred to Florida ’s House of Representatives ‘Public Safety and Domestic Security Policy Committee’. Representative Rouson has demonstrated throughout his career a willingness to take great initiative to assist children.

Representative Kevin Ambler, who heads the ‘Public Safety and Domestic Security Policy Committee’ is no stranger to the family law issues. A portion of Representative Ambler’s law practice focused on family law and children’s welfare. Representative Ambler has placed the bill on his committee’s hearing schedule for Tuesday, March 23rd. The hopes and safety of hundreds of thousands of children in the state who may one day be at risk now rest on Representative Ambler’s ‘Public Safety and Domestic Security Policy Committee’, and the committee chairman’s advocacy for innocent, defenseless children who are at risk of abduction.

Peter Thomas Senese, the author of the critically acclaimed upcoming book ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ and producer of the documentary film ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into the Storms of International Parental Child Abduction’ stated “Representative Ambler and the rest of the committee members have a very unique and exciting opportunity to make in immediate and long-lasting impact in Florida state law in the name of the best interest of children next week by passing through committee the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill. I speak from personal experience when I say that if preventive laws, including a court’s ability to weigh and assess risk factors associated with potential parental child abduction did exist, I would not be speaking out on this issue the way I am. Unfortunately, that is not the case. But there is hope in Florida, and it now rests on Representative Ambler’s shoulders to demonstrate leadership for our children by passing this critically important bill.”

On Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 the State of Florida took a major first step in protecting that state’s children from the horror of parental child abduction. In a bill sponsored by Senator Eleanor Sobel, a unanimous vote of eight ‘Yeas’ and zero ‘Nays’ occurred before the Florida State Senate’s ‘Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee’, the Senate moved through its first committee the critically important ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’. The Senate’s next step is to have the bill voted on by its ‘Judiciary Committee’, which should happen in the forthcoming weeks. If the bill passes a Judiciary Committee vote, it will then move forward to the ‘Civil Justice Appropriations Committee’, before a final vote before the Senate.

In order to bring awareness of the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill now before Florida’s lawmakers, a group of children’s advocates familiar with parental child abduction, including Carolyn Ann Vlk, Ken Connelly, Peter Thomas Senese, Larry Synclair, Charles Hamilton, Bryan Lee McGlothin, Tammy Searle, and Barbara Mezo have urged lawmakers to pass this much need bill. The group has created an informative website, including a petition site, that addresses the proposed ‘Act’ (

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the author of the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ bill now before the House and Senate stated, “Please carefully consider what we are attempting to implement. In my humble opinion the biggest obstacle we face is a lack of education across the board . . . parents, judges, family court personnel, and policy makers. This deficiency has served to empower potential abductors and compromises the safety of children. Without risk assessment in determining where a credible risk exists, decisions are made that could place a child in unnecessary danger. Parental child abduction is a national tragedy and an immediate remedy is necessary. Please join us in our efforts to protect our most vulnerable members of society - our children."

Floridian resident Larry Synclair, the author of our nation’s first state preventive laws (California) adds, “HB 787 illustrates the need to prevent parental abduction and other states should take similar action. When I sat down to research and write the draft of a bill that would later become the Synclair-Cannon Act, I felt compelled to close gaps in a state’s legal system that allowed children to fall into the hands of abducting parents. California saw the need for the bill and quickly incorporated it into their family code. Today, parents from other states have boldly stepped up to demand laws that will protect their children from this horrific crime that is often ignored by judicial officials. Florida’s HB 787 calls for an implementation of measures that could hinder future acts of abduction. Children need more legislation like this to protect them from this escalating crime."??

Charles Hamilton, left-behind parent of Dakota Carmen Hamilton, stated that “If the ‘Synclair-Cannon Parental Child Abduction Prevention Act’ or a California version of Florida’s HB-787 had existed when my daughter was stolen, the courts would have been armed with the evidence to prevent my daughter’s kidnapping to Spain on December 8, 1996. Failure to sign HB 787 into law will only allow more children in Florida to become victims of this horrible and preventable crime just like my daughter.”

Tammy Searle, a left-behind parent and children’s advocate, now fighting desperately for the return of her daughter is a strong advocate of the present bill and intends to provide the House with testimony next week, along with many of the other children advocates.

Bryan Lee McGlothin, author of ‘Have You Seen My Mother: True Story of Parental Abduction’ stated it best, by reminding the citizens of Florida that "Children have rights and those rights include having both parents in the child's life.”

??Collectively, Florida’s lawmakers and advocates pass urge the citizens of Florida to contact their local representatives and urge them to support the ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ now before its legislative body.

“The reality is that none of us who speak out on this issue would be doing so if we did not experience first-hand the nightmare of child abduction. Truth is, most of us didn’t even know what parental child abduction was, or just how severe of a crime this is against our children,” Peter Thomas Senese added. “I personally urge every lawmaker to stand behind Representative Rouson and Senator Sobel’s initiative and draw a line in the sand, so to speak, in the name of protecting our children.”