Friday, March 14, 2014

Testimony of Peter Thomas Senese of the I CARE Foundation Presented To The U.S. Senate

On February 27th, 2014 the U.S. Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations conducted a hearing before the Honorable Committee Chairman Senator Menendez and Majority Representative Senator Crocker to discuss international parental child abduction and proposed HR. 3212 legislation allowing the President of the United States the ability to sanction other countries the U.S. government believes to be non-complying with the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention.

The I CARE Foundation applauds all stakeholders working to stop abduction while advocating for the rightful return of all abducted children to their country of original jurisdiction. There is no question that a collective effort by all countries to prevent child abduction and efficiently return abducted children to their home country must immediately occur. This said, we believe it critical that all offered solutions protect the viability of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, and, not jeopardize the recovery of children presently abducted or who may be a target of abduction in the future.

Respectfully, we submit that the testimony provided by Peter Thomas Senese on behalf of the I CARE Foundation supports an immediate synchronized efforts by all U.S. Ambassadors to resolve the issues of American child-victims of kidnapping while escalating the functionality of the Hague Conference Secretariat. Contrary to the position of others who have submitted testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, we believe passing legislation granting the United States government to sanction any other country for non-compliance to the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention or creating and upholding an MOU must only occur if all other options are explored and have failed. This has not occurred as of yet.  In addition, we respectfully submit that the failure of abducted children to be returned to their home country is not simply an American problem but a global pandemic. The reality is there are many children wrongfully detained in the United States due to actions that have unfolded in American courtrooms that are not in line with the intent and guidelines established by the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, thus creating significant hardship for families living abroad victimized by abduction.  These issues and viable solutions are offered in Mr. Senese's submitted testimony.

We believe there are key immediate provisions the U.S. government can implement that will prevent abduction, and on a global scale, we believe several of the recommendations provided in Mr. Senese's extensive testimony offer real solutions on the global abduction front. In particular, we believe the I CARE Foundation's 'International Child Travel Consent Form' is the most efficient and effective tool all signatory countries of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention must utilize.

Testimonial Of Peter Thomas Senese

We invite you to read the testimony submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations by Mr. Peter Thomas Senese on behalf of the I CARE Foundation along with the insightful testimony of:

Ambassador Susan Jacobs on behalf of the U.S. Department of State
Mr. Ernie Allan on behalf of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Mr. David Goldman of the Bring Sean Home Foundation

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hague Convention International Child Abduction Prevention Tool Launched

Peter Thomas Senese & The I CARE Foundation's Hague Convention Oriented International Child Abduction Prevention Tool Provides Family Lawyers New Weapon To Protect Children

Family law attorneys worldwide are calling The I CARE Foundation’s groundbreaking International Travel Child Consent Form as a groundbreaking universal child abduction prevention tool that can be used to protect children at risk of international parental abduction.

 
The I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form is being viewed by highly respected international family law attorneys around the world who are deeply familiar with the grave challenges of international parental child abduction prevention and reunification as a significant new tool that may assist them and courts protect against abduction.

Worldwide, international parental child abduction increases substantially during the summer months when children are on summer school break. One of the primary methods behind these abductions under the rules established by the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction occurs when a parent wrongfully detains a child in a foreign country outside of a court order or without consent of the other parent after the ‘taking parent’ is initially granted permission to travel with the child to a foreign country.

In many of these cases the ‘taking parent’ carefully conspires to mislead and defraud the courts and the ‘targeted parent’ of their true intent: to relocate in their country of origin with the child while removing the targeted parent's contact with their child. Detecting abduction schemes is often not easy. In fact, some parents conceal their true intent to abduct by inviting the child's other parent to travel abroad with them in an attempt to avoid suspicion of abduction. However, once in a foreign country (often the conspiring parent's country of origin), the conspiring parent unleashes a horrible scheme intended to remove the other parent’s rights to the child. They often succeed.

The I CARE Foundation’s comprehensive 'International Travel Child Consent Form' was created to prevent these types of international parental child abduction schemes by calling for both parties to affirm key components central to the ability for an abductor to mount a false and misleading legal defense while also creating additional affirmations for an expeditious return of a child who has been wrongfully detained.

Steep in Hague-oriented case law with focus on Articles 1, 12, 13 and 20, the I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent Form was created to remove a parent's legal defenses under Articles 12, 13, and 20 of the Hague Convention who may be scheming to abduct a child prior to an alleged 'family vacation' abroad while also establishing strong support for a child’s immediate return under Article 1 of the Hague Convention.


Silvia A. Sejas Pardo, a highly respected Argentinean and Spanish international lawyer based in Spain and who is a Founding Member of FASIM, an international association of attorneys dedicated to preventing child abduction commented, "We need to continue to treat child abduction and prevention of kidnapping as something extremely exceptional as we are dealing with children's lives. The uncertainty and abuse related to abduction is not in their interest. The I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent Form is workable and would make child abduction more difficult as this document is a legally strong piece of evidence that may result in protecting many children. I hope all Hague-member states embrace this initiative."

Peter Thomas Senese of the I CARE Foundation and author of the critically acclaimed Chasing The Cyclone and lead creator of the consent form added, "The new abduction prevention tool was created to help provide clarity and directional paths for any court or law enforcement agency overseeing international parental child abduction associated with the wrongful retention of a child abroad. As the new international travel consent form reaches into Central Authorities and courtrooms around the world, and as attorneys dedicated to protecting children implement this tool or one similar to what the I CARE Foundation has created, we hope that there is a dramatic decline in abusive child abductions. We may not have created a new law, but we have created a universal child abduction prevention tool the entire world can use."

Mexico’s Carlos Alvarado, a renowned international family lawyer specializing in international parental child abduction prevention and reunification issues, and who is actively involved in new legislation initiatives in Mexico focused on protecting children of abduction added, "As a law practitioner deeply familiar with Hague Convention law and the great challenges parents and lawyers have protecting children targeted for international abduction, it is critical that new and creative abduction prevention tools are utilized to protect children. The I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent Form is an important tool that can and should be used to prevent children from being wrongfully detained in a foreign country. We intend to widely implement this new tool to protect children in Mexico and whenever possible, assist parents who have had a child abducted to Mexico who have utilized this agreement. This is a tool all attorneys should use." 

Adding further insight, renown Florida family law attorney Denise Gunn, who is a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Hague Convention Attorney Network and who recently prevented the abduction of two minors from Florida to a non-Hague Middle Eastern country in a complex custody dispute added, “New and applicable international child abduction prevention resources such as the I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent form is a critically needed tool to stop the abusive criminal act of parental abduction. Once implemented, the foundation's groundbreaking Hague Convention-oriented travel consent form should protect a large population of at-risk children around the world who are targeted for wrongful retention under the rules of local and international law. The ingenuity and thoughtful creation of this agreement illustrates the expertise and commitment of the I CARE Foundation to protect children."

Linda Hammerschmid is Secretary of the Family Law Association of Quebec and a Family Law practitioner in Montreal Canada with over 30 years’ experience in the field. Ms. Hammerschmid commented, “The creation of the new International Travel Consent form is a MUST have, not only for Government Departments, Family Law Attorneys and divorcing couples, but also for INTACT families, and should be kept at the homes of ALL parents to use whenever one or the other wishes to travel alone with their children. Far too often the traveling parent only informs the other, AFTER departure, of their intention not to return the children.” The I CARE Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child abduction.

Jennifer Cluff, one of the world’s foremost parenting blog writers who has stewarded the message of child abduction prevention on her Mom-ology parent site added, “Parents at risk of having a child kidnapped often are not aware of the scheme against them. The I CARE Foundation's tool is something all parenting-focused writers need to share with their readers, especially since the majority of our reader-base is the near-identical demographic of targeted parents.”

To download a copy of the 'International Travel Child Consent Form' in English or Spanish please visit the I CARE Foundation's official website. For more information about suggestions on how to implement the form and to obtain the legal analysis used to create this abduction prevention tool, please contact by email: legal@stopchildabduction.org or call 310.882.3967.

*NOTE: The press news release does not constitute legal advice. Should you require assistance please consult with a qualified attorney.


Peter Thomas Senese and I CARE Foundation Launch International Travel Child Consent Form To Stop Child Abduction

Peter Thomas Senese & The I CARE Foundation's Hague Convention Oriented International Child Abduction Prevention Tool Provides Family Lawyers New Weapon To Protect Children

Family law attorneys worldwide are calling The I CARE Foundation’s groundbreaking International Travel Child Consent Form as a groundbreaking universal child abduction prevention tool that can be used to protect children at risk of international parental abduction.

The I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form is being viewed by highly respected international family law attorneys around the world who are deeply familiar with the grave challenges of international parental child abduction prevention and reunification as a significant new tool that may assist them and courts protect against abduction.

Worldwide, international parental child abduction increases substantially during the summer months when children are on summer school break. One of the primary methods behind these abductions under the rules established by the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction occurs when a parent wrongfully detains a child in a foreign country outside of a court order or without consent of the other parent after the ‘taking parent’ is initially granted permission to travel with the child to a foreign country.

In many of these cases the ‘taking parent’ carefully conspires to mislead and defraud the courts and the ‘targeted parent’ of their true intent: to relocate in their country of origin with the child while removing the targeted parent's contact with their child. Detecting abduction schemes is often not easy. In fact, some parents conceal their true intent to abduct by inviting the child's other parent to travel abroad with them in an attempt to avoid suspicion of abduction. However, once in a foreign country (often the conspiring parent's country of origin), the conspiring parent unleashes a horrible scheme intended to remove the other parent’s rights to the child. They often succeed.

The I CARE Foundation’s comprehensive 'International Travel Child Consent Form' was created to prevent these types of international parental child abduction schemes by calling for both parties to affirm key components central to the ability for an abductor to mount a false and misleading legal defense while also creating additional affirmations for an expeditious return of a child who has been wrongfully detained.

Steep in Hague-oriented case law with focus on Articles 1, 12, 13 and 20, the I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent Form was created to remove a parent's legal defenses under Articles 12, 13, and 20 of the Hague Convention who may be scheming to abduct a child prior to an alleged 'family vacation' abroad while also establishing strong support for a child’s immediate return under Article 1 of the Hague Convention.


Silvia A. Sejas Pardo, a highly respected Argentinean and Spanish international lawyer based in Spain and who is a Founding Member of FASIM, an international association of attorneys dedicated to preventing child abduction commented, "We need to continue to treat child abduction and prevention of kidnapping as something extremely exceptional as we are dealing with children's lives. The uncertainty and abuse related to abduction is not in their interest. The I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent Form is workable and would make child abduction more difficult as this document is a legally strong piece of evidence that may result in protecting many children. I hope all Hague-member states embrace this initiative."

Peter Thomas Senese of the I CARE Foundation and author of the critically acclaimed Chasing The Cyclone and lead creator of the consent form added, "The new abduction prevention tool was created to help provide clarity and directional paths for any court or law enforcement agency overseeing international parental child abduction associated with the wrongful retention of a child abroad. As the new international travel consent form reaches into Central Authorities and courtrooms around the world, and as attorneys dedicated to protecting children implement this tool or one similar to what the I CARE Foundation has created, we hope that there is a dramatic decline in abusive child abductions. We may not have created a new law, but we have created a universal child abduction prevention tool the entire world can use."

Mexico’s Carlos Alvarado, a renowned international family lawyer specializing in international parental child abduction prevention and reunification issues, and who is actively involved in new legislation initiatives in Mexico focused on protecting children of abduction added, "As a law practitioner deeply familiar with Hague Convention law and the great challenges parents and lawyers have protecting children targeted for international abduction, it is critical that new and creative abduction prevention tools are utilized to protect children. The I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent Form is an important tool that can and should be used to prevent children from being wrongfully detained in a foreign country. We intend to widely implement this new tool to protect children in Mexico and whenever possible, assist parents who have had a child abducted to Mexico who have utilized this agreement. This is a tool all attorneys should use." 

Adding further insight, renown Florida family law attorney Denise Gunn, who is a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Hague Convention Attorney Network and who recently prevented the abduction of two minors from Florida to a non-Hague Middle Eastern country in a complex custody dispute added, “New and applicable international child abduction prevention resources such as the I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent form is a critically needed tool to stop the abusive criminal act of parental abduction. Once implemented, the foundation's groundbreaking Hague Convention-oriented travel consent form should protect a large population of at-risk children around the world who are targeted for wrongful retention under the rules of local and international law. The ingenuity and thoughtful creation of this agreement illustrates the expertise and commitment of the I CARE Foundation to protect children."

Linda Hammerschmid is Secretary of the Family Law Association of Quebec and a Family Law practitioner in Montreal Canada with over 30 years’ experience in the field. Ms. Hammerschmid commented, “The creation of the new International Travel Consent form is a MUST have, not only for Government Departments, Family Law Attorneys and divorcing couples, but also for INTACT families, and should be kept at the homes of ALL parents to use whenever one or the other wishes to travel alone with their children. Far too often the traveling parent only informs the other, AFTER departure, of their intention not to return the children.” The I CARE Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child abduction.

Jennifer Cluff, one of the world’s foremost parenting blog writers who has stewarded the message of child abduction prevention on her Mom-ology parent site added, “Parents at risk of having a child kidnapped often are not aware of the scheme against them. The I CARE Foundation's tool is something all parenting-focused writers need to share with their readers, especially since the majority of our reader-base is the near-identical demographic of targeted parents.”

To download a copy of the 'International Travel Child Consent Form' in English or Spanish please visit the I CARE Foundation's official website. For more information about suggestions on how to implement the form and to obtain the legal analysis used to create this abduction prevention tool, please contact by email: legal@stopchildabduction.org or call 310.882.3967.

*NOTE: The press news release does not constitute legal advice. Should you require assistance please consult with a qualified attorney.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Child Custody, Divorce, Parental Abduction: How To Protect Your Children From International Parental Abduction


'How do I protect and prevent my child from being internationally abducted by their other parent?' This question is often asked by parents in messy and nasty divorces especially when the child's other parent was born in a foreign country and may still be a citizen of that country.

Yes - parents who are getting divorced to a person who is a citizen of another country than the country they live in have to be aware of the warning signs and risk factors of international parental child abduction.

Divorce and child custody disputes create serious concern when a foreign born parent wants to take their child and travel to a foreign country. As the terminology 'International Parental Child Abduction' becomes more mainstream, parents involved born in two different countries now involved in divorce or separation proceedings must be aware of the warning signs and risk factors of international parental child abduction.

Summer is the time of year when children are targeted for international parental child abduction.

Parental abduction is a serious crime that often can place the child in serious danger.  In fact, a special report by the U.S. Government confirmed that children who are parentally abducted are often in great risk of being severely injured and even murdered by their abducting parent.

So, parents who have or are presently going through a divorce, particularly with a person who was born in a foreign country, must be extremely aware of the risk factors associated with allowing a child to travel to a foreign country once divorce proceedings have commenced.

Know the warning signs and risk factors of international parental child abduction.

Any parent who is considering to allow a child to travel abroad with the other parent, or any parent who has had a court grant the other parent permission to travel outside of the country with their other parent should strongly consider using the I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent Form.  The consent form was designed to assist parents prevent child abduction.

Today is July 1st, 2013. The summer is now here. So too is the fact that the summer season is international parental child abduction season.

Parents need to educate themselves and stop child abduction.

For more information, please visit the I CARE Foundation.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

How To Stop International Parental Child Abduction and the Wrongful Detention of a Child

Each summer, thousands of clever child abductors will commit the crime of international parental child abduction by creating a scheme to legally travel with a child to a foreign country and then not return them to their home country, often violating either a court order, the rights of custody from the other parent, or both. 

Under the Hague Convention, the wrongful detention of a child is abduction.  Under most countries' laws, this is a criminal act of kidnapping.


The reality is that wrongful detention of a child under the rules of the Hague Convention appears to be the most common form of abduction. Parents need to know and understand the risk factors associated with allowing a child to travel abroad and act proactively to protect them.

RECIEVE A FREE COPY OF THE I CARE FOUNDATION'S

Unfortunately, there are many abduction defenses that are implemented as part of an abductor's strategy to have a court sanction their act of kidnapping.

There is no question abduction is complicated.  Especially for someone who first experiences the betrayal and fraud associated with abduction.

Recently, the I CARE Foundation launched a very unique abduction prevention tool: one that has never before been created.  It is a universal international travel child consent agreement that was created to remove possible legal defenses associated with an abductor's scheme to wrongfully detain a child abroad.

Please visit the I CARE Foundation to receive a copy of the international travel child consent agreement or to learn more about the criminal act and schemes of parental child abduction.

Kind regards to all,

Peter Thomas Senesehttp://www.stopchildabduction.org/Peter_Thomas_Senese_I_CARE.html

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Conspiracy. Scams. Fraud. Warning Signs of International Child Abduction: CONSENT TO TRAVEL

Peter Senese: Summer Scams: Ways Abductors Fraudulently Trick Parents. International Parental Child Abduction

Fraud, consiracy, and heartbreaking schemes intended to destroy the family bond, and on many occassions, see a targeted parent arrested, are all part of the bizarre world of international parental child abduction. And while the evil schemes of an abductor unfolds, often in front of the blind eye of a parent, law enforcement, or the courts, children's lives are at stake, including the real threat of parent child murder at the hands of scheming child abductors, as shared this past week by the Department of Justice.

THE ARTICLE 13 CONSENT OR ACQUIESCENCE DEFENSE: PETITIONERS CONSENTED TO OR ACQUIESCED IN THE REMOVAL OR RETENTION

I have previously written that during the summer school break children are at the highest risk of being a victim of international parental child abduction.  Often, cases of international child abduction that occurs during this time of year is when a parent initially travels with their child abroad with consent from the child's other parent. Often, the other parent (typically unsuspecting of any acts of abduction) will travel with scheming parent who is in reality, in the process of fraudulently planning an international child abduction.  Once the scheming parent arrives in the country they are visiting, they unleash their abduction scheme, which can include legal petitions stating that the other parent had in fact consented to a relocation before they left the child's country of original jurisdiciton, or had subsequently agreed to relocate while in the new country.
This is a very serious matter, and I know many parents who were victimized by abduction under The Hague Convention's Article 13 - Consent or Acquiescense Defense.
During the coming summer ... parents traveling abroad really need to understand some of the do's and do not's!

Under Article 13(a) of the Hague Convention, the court is not bound to return a child if the respondent establishes that the petitioner consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention. Both defenses turn on the petitioner’s subjective intent, but they are distinctly different. The defense of consent relates to the petitioner’s conduct before the child’ removal or retention, whereas the defense of acquiescence relates to “whether the petitioner subsequently agreed to or accepted the removal or retention.” The respondent must prove these defenses by a preponderance of the evidence; however, even if one of these defenses is proven successfully, the court nonetheless retains discretion to order the child’s return.

Courts have expressed that such consent can be proved successfully with relatively informal statements or conduct. Because consent requires little formality, courts will look beyond the words of the consent to the nature and scope of the consent, keeping in mind any conditions or limitations imposed by the petitioner. Conversely, the Friedrich v. Friedrich (Friedrich II) court held that acquiescence requires “an act or statement with the requisite formality, such as testimony in a judicial proceeding; a convincing written renunciation of rights; or a consistent attitude of acquiescence over a significant period of time.” The following are some of the most common arguments and actions that parents use in their attempts to prove or disprove the defenses of consent and acquiescence.

1.      Authorization To Travel.

Often, a respondent produces a signed “Authorization to Travel” document as evidence that the petitioner gave consent for the child to change residences. Courts rarely accept this as evidence that the other parent consented to the child’s removal. In Mendez Lynch v. Mendez Lynch, the court held that an Authorization to Travel, which allowed the children to travel freely, did not indicate that the other parent gave up his legal rights of custody. There, a father signed a broad Authorization to Travel that allowed the mother of the children to take the children out of Argentina. The court held that the “evidence [was] clear that the written consents to travel were given to facilitate family vacation-related travel, not as consent to unilaterally remove the children from Argentina at the sole discretion of Respondent.”


2. Words And Actions Of Left-Behind Parents.

Courts frequently echo the warning of the Friedrich II court that “[e]ach of the words and actions of a parent during the separation are not to be scrutinized for a possible waiver of custody rights.” Here, a third party claimed that Mr. Friedrich stated that he was not seeking custody of his child because he lacked the means to support the child. The Sixth Circuit responded that, even if the statement was made, it is “insufficient evidence of subsequent acquiescence.” Additionally, “isolated statements to third parties are not sufficient to establish consent or acquiescence.”


3. Nature Of Children’s Removal.

When the abducting parent removes the child in a secretive fashion – for example, during the night, while the other parent is away, or without informing the other parent – a court is more likely to find that the other parent did not consent or acquiesce to the child’s removal. In Friedrich II, the Sixth Circuit stated that “[t]he deliberately secretive nature of [the mother’s] actions is extremely strong evidence that [the father] would not have consented to the removal of [the child].” One court referenced the abducting parent’s “deception,” which prevented any acquiescence by the left-behind parent.

For more information on International Parental Child Abduction in the United States, please visit the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues website.  In Canada, please visit the Ministry of Justice. You may also visit the I CARE Foundation or the official website of Peter Thomas Senese's Chasing The Cyclone for extensive information on abduction.

Remember, each of us can help protect children by raising awareness of IPCA.  I invite you to read just how important it is to stop abduction by reading 'Testimonial letters about Peter Thomas Senese and the I CARE Foundation'.

And remember, each of our own individual voices does matter.  We can all make a positive difference in the life of one another. Miracles do happen!



Saturday, June 1, 2013

Peter Senese: Heroes Live Heroically. How To Make A Difference For Others

Hero. Heroes. Heroically.

These words are occasionally used in society. But have you ever really asked yourself, "What is the definition of a hero or what does a person do when they act heroically?"

Over the last few years I have written about individuals I consider to be heroes in the 'Peter Senese: Today's Heroes' retrospective I have enjoyed sharing with others.
 
During this same period of time, I have continued to ask myself, "What is a hero? Who are heroes in my life? And what do they do heroically?"

As a stakeholder in the fight to stop child abduction, I have had a unique view on the polar extremes of good vs. bad, selfless vs. selfish, and heroic vs. narcissistic.

Mike Dilbeck, who appears to be one terrific guy, is the Founder & President of 'The Response Ability Project: Empowering People to Intervene in Problem Situations and Be an Every|Day Hero™ shared his definition of what is a hero:
Heroes are people who transform compassion (a personal virtue) into heroic action (a civic virtue). In doing so, they put their best selves forward in service to humanity. A hero is as an individual or a network of people that take action on behalf of others in need, or in defense of integrity or a moral cause.
 
According to the Heroic Imagination Project: a Heroic action is
1. Engaged in voluntarily;
2. Conducted in service to one or more people or the community as a whole;
3. Involving a risk to physical comfort, social stature, or quality of life; and
4. Initiated without the expectation of material gain.
There is another aspect of a heroic action that I think critically defines a heroic action:

                    5. To live Unbowed through courage and within your morals, values, and beliefs.

 

Mr. Dilbeck expanded on the Heroic Imagination Project when he added, "When you consider this interpretation, you can really get that heroism is the other side of the coin — the opposite — of bystander behavior. When you voluntarily engage in an activity that is in service to someone else, or the community as a whole, and you take a risk in doing so AND do it without any expectation of material gain: you are a hero! You are not a bystander.

"Heroism is not random acts of kindness, as great as they are. Heroism is very distinct. A hero is not someone you simply admire or respect. A hero is a very distinct person."

Is it a fair assessment to say that most of us want to be heroes?

Probably.

Why?

Because each of us, in our own way, would like to live in freedom, and in doing so, know that we can make a positive difference for others.

Is wanting to make a difference for others narcissistic, egotistical, or self-promoting?

Absolutely not. Particularly when you voluntarily make a positive difference for others (plural), and in the process of doing so, you seek nothing in return other than a positive outcome for those who may be in need of assistance. Underscoring the selfless act is that a heroic action may at times place a person at physical risk or reduce their quality of life.

On more occasion than not, I have met others who have not been confident enough in who they are to act heroically. This lack of courage often causes them to be bystanders of life. In many ways, it causes us to walk through life without living it. Without courage to be free in who we are, we do not know freedom. Without belief in our own morals, values, and ability, we bow to what is around us, seldom standing up for what we believe in.

This is why, I have learned that in order to be Heroic a person must first and foremost live Unbowed. It is a lesson taught from one of the most heroic individuals who ever lived: Nobel Laurette Professor Wangari Maathai - the first African women to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

So at the end of the, perhaps we can say that a hero is a person who acts heroically because they first learned to believe in themselves.

On this note, I have been so blessed because I am surrounded by heroes who act heroically as a way of life.
"Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect." ― Wangari Maathai
 
 
 
I would like to share this idea with you:
"There is nothing that the world can offer you that is more satisfying and meaningful than being able to make a positive difference for those around you.  Find your courage, and then get involved." -- Peter Senese
 
 In ending this, I hope I have given you a few seeds of inspiration to get involved.

Lastly, I would like to leave you with this final thought as shared by the Heroic Imagination Project:

Heroism is the active attempt to address injustice or create positive change in the world despite pressures to do otherwise. It may involve coping effectively in unclear or emergency situations, helping others in need, or may involve setting and achieving goals to promote the well-being of others. Habits of wise and effective acts of heroism can be learned, encouraged, modeled, and are achievable by anyone at any point in their lives.

 
With best wishes,

Peter Senese
(Read sworn testimonials about how Peter Senese helped protect children from abduction)


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Arresting, Prosecuting, and Jailing International Parental Child Abductors May Dramatically Stop Kidnappings

Arresting, prosecuting, and jailing international parental child abductors would more than likely have a positive impact on the number of children who are internationally kidnapped each year.

The reason behind this notion is that the majority of scheming, fraudster, scamming abductors do not believe that they will be prosecuted or go to jail for their act of kidnapping. They think that because they are the parent of the child they have snatched, they have immunity. 

Sadly, and all too often, they have been right as judges and law enforcement have been reluctant to prosecute. Is it complicated?  You bet it is. And the choice for a targeted parent or law enforcement officer to seek criminal charges against a parental abductor are not easy. This is discussed below.

However, we must remind ourselves . . . and it is not difficult to do so, but we must, that parental child abduction is a highly abusive criminal act against a child. Along the way, and prior to the abduction, a conspired scheme against a targeted parent and defenseless child is hatched. One that often includes the breach of many criminal laws or court orders.

And very rarely do we ever speak about the targeted parent. Make no mistake, they too are victims of schemes associated with IPCA. Often, they lose everything: the financial burden of reunification falls on their shoulders. The consumption of their child disappearing in a sea of 7 billion people envelopes them. The are enveloped by the reality that their child is being taught to hate while also living the life of a fugitive. And most of all, in their sense of hopelessness, they are the candle holders of the other parents truth: often a truth concerning a sociopath willing to do anything to accomplish their narcissistic goals. Quietly, at times they look up into the sky, perhaps at times seeing the constellation Orion, or the Big Dipper, and they may pray that their child is alive, for they know, but they don't want to admit it, that parental child murder is real.  And so, they live a life consumed by fear, disappointment, and helplessness.

All because their child's other parent internationally kidnapped their child, and to date, the laws that govern a child's return home make it rather long and difficult to bring them. home.

And that stinks.

So here we are. The summer is approaching. Summer is known as the high season for international parental child abduction.

When a child is internationally abducted, there are three legal remedies available for U.S. citizens seeking to reunite with their child. Please note, that going to the country where your child was abducted to and removing them from that country could be viewed by that country as a criminal act even if you have sole custody in the United States (or anywhere else that you may live). The legal ways to reunite with your child include:

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction: In nations that have signed the Hague Convention, there is a civil process that facilitates the return of abducted children under 16 to their home countries.

The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) of 1993: A criminal arrest warrant can be issued for a parent who takes a juvenile under 16 outside of the U.S. without the other custodial parent’s permission.

Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP)—Parental Kidnapping: When criminal charges are filed by a state that requests our help, a criminal arrest warrant can be issued for an abducting parent who flees across state lines or internationally.

Globally, the pandemic of cross-border child kidnappings grows (It should be noted that reported cases of abduction originating from the U.S. has declined by 15% over the past two years after nearly 30 years of growth: the drop in kidnappings is not believed to be a reflection of what is occurring globally).

The challenge with a criminal processes is that though it may lead to the arrest of the abducting parent, it does not specifically order for the return of the child, although the child is usually returned when the parent is apprehended.  Often, judges in other countries may appear hesitant to return a child if they know the abductor is going to be jailed because there is a misconception that doing so would not be 'in the best interest of the child'. 

Personally, I think that this is a wrong approach, particularly since the majority of scheming, scamming, fraudster child abducting parents have no concern about arrest. 

It should be noted that the general characteristics of the majority of child abductors according to numerous government and non-government organizations is that they are sociopaths with narcissistic tendencies.  Sadly, the act of abduction itself has everything to do with the sociopath seeking revenge against the other parent. Thus, they abduct the child in order to cause that parent pain and suffering.

So without concern of retribution and without regard to the child or their true target: the other parent, the conspire and create a disgraceful criminal scheme to abduct. Almost always, they will try to have the other parent arrested prior to the abduction.  In addition, online defamation and slander is used against the targeted parent in order to try to have the abductor's act of kidnapping sanctioned by a foreign court under Article 13 b of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The end result all too often?  A kidnapper is given a green-light pass to attempt to destroy the targeted parent's other life. And many abductors no this . . . in many court cases the I CARE Foundation has assisted families in crisis due to abduction, there have been many instances where evidence has been presented to court establishing that the abductor had no concern for any retribution, and buoyed by that safeguard, escalated their attack on their target.  In the process, their abuse directed toward the child also escalated.

But perhaps it might be most beneficial to arrest a person who is scheming to commit abduction. Conceivably, there are many acts of fraud, contempt, and misrepresentation that occurs during the pre-abduction stage.  Arresting schemers would send a strong message to anyone thinking of kidnapping a child to think again.

International parental child abduction prevention awareness has played a critical role in decreasing the abduction rate in the United States these past two years. Much credit must go to the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues, and the men and women who work day-in and day-out assisting families of abduction.

But the fact remains, as indicated by the nearly 800 reported cased of IPCA in 2012 (and the estimated 800 to 1,200 unreported cases of IPCA), that there still remains a large problem in the U.S. One that is mirrored, if not magnified abroad.

Now I have said for years that I am a strong supporter of the Hague Convention. I still am. However, like most things in life, interpretation of the Hague by a signatory member state is subjective. All too often a country may not comply with the intent and spirit of the convention.

And there are stall tactics an abductor and their lawyers may use during litigation which will only increase the already extremely high cost of litigation for the victimized parent.  Without the financial ability to litigate a Hague Case, the chances of a parent reuniting with their child are slim.


Now going back to the U.S. Federal Government's authority in parental kidnapping cases, this stems from the Fugitive Felon Act as part of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1073–UFAP.

Most of all if there is one message I would like to share with a parent who is thinking about removing a child from their country of jurisdiction without a court's order or permission from the other parent to relocate please listen to what I have to say:  A child who is brought into the world of cross-border litigation will suffer extreme hardship regardless of what you think you can do to alleviate this concern. Having been involved personally with abduction and having assisted a large number of families who have had to deal with a cross-border custody dispute, I can assure you no person wins. Instead, your child suffers greatly, while the road you and your family will travel on is far from easy. In fact, it is treacherous. And no matter how big of a support system you think you have: nothing will remove the storms you will face.  So if you desire to relocate abroad, do it the legal way: go to court and seek mobility. In addition, if you are a parent facing real abuse, seek the aid of law enforcement and advocacy groups familiar with abuse before you consider illegally removing your child.  This is not to say that if you believe your life is in danger, to sit tight and do something. Do something - but do it within the confines of the legal system.


The following was sourced from the U.S. Department of State's website and has been provided in order to provide State's view on options a parent may have available to them :


Your Decision to Use Criminal Charges.
 
Your decision about whether to pursue criminal charges against the taking parent is a difficult one that should be made through consultation with your legal representative and in consideration of its potential impact on other aspects of your efforts to secure your child’s return. The Office of Children’s Issues can provide information about U.S. laws that make parental abduction a crime, resources for how to pursue a criminal warrant, and observations about some of the potential consequences of such an action based on knowledge of the laws and/or practices in the country to which your child has been abducted. We cannot, however, recommend a specific course of action or guarantee a specific outcome.
                   
Depending on the circumstances, criminal charges filed against the taking parent can either help or hinder the successful return of your child. Therefore, it is important to weigh the pros and cons carefully and to obtain legal advice from an attorney before making the decision that you believe is best for your child. The purpose of a criminal warrant is to authorize law enforcement officials to apprehend and present the taking parent for prosecution. Your child is not subject to the warrant, which means that successful apprehension of the taking parent will not necessarily result in the return of your child. It can, however, serve as a negotiation tool since the taking parent may agree to voluntarily return the child in exchange for leniency or dropped charges.
                   
The existence of criminal charges may also negatively impact a foreign court’s decision about whether to order or deny your child’s return under the Hague Abduction Convention. Although the Hague Abduction Convention pertains to children, not to their taking parents, in practice many judges are reluctant to order a return if the taking parent cannot accompany the child back to the United States. If the judge hearing the Hague Abduction Convention case is aware the taking parent faces arrest upon arrival, the judge may deny the return or order it only if the criminal charges are dropped. While you may request withdrawal of criminal charges against the taking parent, only the entity which issued the charges and/or a judge has the authority do so and may not agree to your request.
You will need to consider your goals and the implications criminal charges may have for you and your child. The prosecutor, the laws of the country where your child is located, and the taking parent’s behavior will all have an effect on how successful criminal charges are in securing your child’s return. Understanding these considerations may help you predict whether criminal charges can be an effective option for you and your child.
                   
Pros and Cons of Pressing Criminal Charges:
PROS
  • The process of filing criminal charges may help you locate your child.
  • A criminal charge will potentially facilitate cooperation from foreign law enforcement authorities by authorizing issuance of an INTERPOL red notice.
  • If the taking parent is a U.S. Citizen, criminal warrants can serve as justification to revoke his ir her passport, thus limiting subsequent international travel and potentially creating obstacles for his or her ability to remain legally in a foreign country.
  • Public awareness of the successful prosecution of a taking parent may deter other from abducting their children.
CONS
  • An outstanding criminal warrant may deter a voluntary or negotiated return if a taking parent believes that he or she may be arrested whey they return to the United States.
  • Criminal charges may adversely affect Hague return proceedings. Some judges nay refuse to order a child’s return if there is a warrant for the taking parent's arrest.
  • Criminal charges may encourage a taking parent to go deeper into hiding to avoid arrest. This is especially true when the taking parent has family or deep ties in the community.
  • The arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of the taking parent could be emotionally damaging for the child.
  • The goals of the criminal justice system to arrest a taking parent may be in conflict with your wishes, and once initiated, the prosecutor has control of any and all criminal proceedings. How these proceedings develop will be out of your hands.
Begin by Contacting Law Enforcement
When your child is missing you should immediately report the abduction to law enforcement. Law Enforcement should respond immediately, and enter your child into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person Database. The initial response from law enforcement could determine whether or not a child is quickly and safely recovered.
                   
Entering your child into NCIC does not automatically initiate criminal proceedings against the taking parent. It is best to consult with an attorney before you decide to pursue criminal charges. Depending on your State laws, law enforcement may require that you have a custody order, before seeking criminal warrants.
                   
HELPFUL HINT: We recommend you keep a record of all of your correspondence with all parties you interact with, including law enforcement. Note as well all the names of the people you speak to, the dates and times of the conversation, and the information that was provided.
  • Your Local Police: Most international abductions are first reported to your local police. If they pursue warrants, your local police (in coordination with the local prosecutor) may seek issuance of a warrant based on your state's criminal parental kidnapping laws. You may also want to arrange to meet with your local prosecutor's office to understand law enforcement's considerations for moving forward, and to advocate for your cases.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): You may also report your case directly to the FBI at the field office nearest your home. If possible, you should consider meeting with the Assistant U.S. Attorney to discuss the possibility of pursuing federal criminal charges against the taking parent. The FBI may decide to treat the abduction as a felony under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act. Visit www.fbi.gov for more information.
HELPFUL HINT: Many law enforcement professionals have limited experience with parental child abduction cases and specifically, with procedures in international parental abduction cases. The Office of Children's Issues can provide resources and communicate with law enforcement officials about the federal laws that will authorize them to assist
 
Criminal Warrants
  • Coordinated Effort: Successful resolution of international parental child abduction cases through use of criminal charges required a coordinated effort among federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities.In some cases, U.S. law enforcement will also enlist the help of INTERPOL and foreign law enforcement to carry out an investigation.
  • Foreign Police, Customs, and Laws: Be aware that parental abduction is not a crime in most countries, and this can hinder efforts to prosecute a taking parent. Other factors that may obstruct the process are local customs as they relate to religion, gender, nationality, and other factors.
  • Foreign Criminal Charges: You should always consult an attorney in the foreign country if you intend to pursue foreign criminal charges against the taking parent. In some countries, you may be able to pursue the prosecution of the taking parent by the authorities of the country where the child is found. In many countries, citizens can be prosecuted for crimes committed abroad if the act is a criminal offense under local law; however, parental abduction is rarely considered a crime outside of the United States.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Are The Top Social Trends For 2013? They all begin with DISRUPTION

What Are The Big Ideas From

The Atlantic's New York Ideas Conference

At the New York Ideas conference, <i>Atlantic</i> senior writer Corby Kummer (pictured, far left) interviewed chef Mario Batali and food blogger Deb Perelman.
 
I love conferences that shares, well, Big Ideas, which is why the Atlantic's New York Idea's Conference is outstanding. Its purpose is clear. The New York Ideas conference not only shares new ideas and trends, but it celebrates them!
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                  The conference is  hosted by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute at the New-York Historical Society, the daylong confab included conversations with some noteworthy trendsetters inlcuding the visionary Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and chef Mario Batali, who's food I have eaten for over 20 years, including when Mario first opened Po on Cornellia Street, and as it turned out, would share grappa many a late nights at Blue Ribbon when any notion of being a celebrity chef was just a seedling.

 Discussion of the big ideas included everything from the impact of food blogs and book-jacket design, to high-storage date capability to 3-D manufacturing design.
 
So what are some of the Big Ideas?

Well, if there was one common word that celebrated the Big Ideas it would be 'DISRUPT'!

Love it!

So here we go ....


1. Fund-raisers are working more like corporations
A panel titled "Disrupting the Old Philanthropy" explored how charitable organizations are taking lessons from the business world to help measure their work and increase its impact. Nancy Mahon, the former executive director of God's Love We Deliver and now the global executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund and a senior vice president at Estée Lauder, spoke about the need for metrics around philanthropic endeavors, such as the sales of a lipstick with a charitable tie-in. "Working in a corporation, I'm a sharper thinker and a better investor."

Panelists Lauren Bush Lauren, C.E.O. and co-founder of FEED Projects, and Jessica Jackley, a venture partner at the Collaborative Fund and co-founder of the micro-lending site Kiva, spoke about how consumers are looking to their employers and the companies they buy from to reflect their values. Jackley spoke of encouraging people to take a more integrated approach to work, investing, and philanthropy: "What really changes the world is not getting corporations to give more, but [changing] how individuals choose to spend their time and their brainpower."

2. People are really excited about 3-D printers
While the technology is not that new, the cost has come down enough that more people can afford them for rapid prototyping and model-making. "I wonder if, when the hammer came out, people were sitting at conferences saying, 'Have you heard about the hammer?'" asked Jessica Banks, co-founder of Rock Paper Robot, a furniture and lighting company.

3. The Internet can help you build an audience—but you have to nurture it constantly
In a conversation with three bloggers who have built significant brands and followings, they all stressed the importance of regular communication. "Blogging is putting out a steady stream of content that an audience can rely on," said Brandon Stanton, a photographer with a Tumblr blog called Humans of New York that has more than 700,000 fans on Facebook. And online content builds relationships that become platforms for other uses. "The Internet is not designed to make you money," he said, but it helps you build a name that can make money in other ways.
 
4. We're in a time of simple design "We yearn for simplicity in an age where technology has made things more and more complex," said John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, in a discussion of art, design, and technology. As computer chips have become both cheaper and more powerful, they get put inside all sorts of things—even simple objects that already perform their functions well, like a spoon.

Simple design can have complicated reasons, though. "Simplicity is an illusion sometimes," said Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. Apple's iPhones and iPads look uncomplicated, but they perform lots of complicated tasks. And they don't adhere to the notion that form follows function—you don't know what they do until you turn them on. In her own work at MoMA, where people are probably encountering her exhibits on the way to see works by Picasso or Matisse, Antonelli said, "I want them to walk into my show and in five minutes something is already deposited." They have learned something about design, whether they realize it or not. "Communication is what I'm after."

5. Consumers want friendly expertise
Mario Batali was the more famous of two people on a food panel, but he spent more time praising his fellow panelist, Deb Perelman, who writes the popular food blog the Smitten Kitchen. "I like the wide-eyed and happy approach to writing about food," Batali said, describing his own approach to books and television, as well as Perelman's. (He also said Jimmy Fallon's upcoming promotion to host of The Tonight Show stems from the fun, snark-free tone of his Late Night show.)

"There are enough people who are telling you you're doing it wrong," Perelman said. "I'm not really interested in that."

6. The most important trend in social media is visual story telling
"In a world where people are overloaded with content, having great imagery to support a story is very important," said Pete Cashmore, founder and C.E.O. of the social-media-obsessed news site Mashable.

7. Social media calls for personal voices
As Cashmore recalled using "we" in product reviews in the early days of Mashable, when he was a one-person staff writing from his bedroom in Scotland, he noted a change in tone: "Now big companies pretend to be smaller companies, because that's cooler."

Now I have one other big idea: I'm going to have a nice omellete with feta cheese and spinach this morning with a fresh squeezed glass of grapefruit juice.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

United States International Parental Child Abduction Statistics 2011 and 2012 Show Drop In Abductions

United States Statistics Of International Parental Child Abduction

The United States government has stated that the number of reported cases of international parental child abduction has dropped by over 15% during fiscal year 2012, marking the second year in a row that the number of reported cases of outbound child abductions have declined by over 15%. This current trend contradicts the previous 30 years, where outbound abductions continued to signifcantly increase. 



Report on International Parental Child Abduction Growth




International Parental Child Abduction Today - 2013


Written By

Carolyn Ann Vlk and Peter Thomas Senese


Issued On February 25th, 2013


INTRODUCTION


United States child-citizens continue to be criminally kidnapped, illegally removed overseas, and wrongfully detained in foreign countries in shocking numbers by their non-custodial parent. The global plague of international parental child abduction significantly continues in America in a similar capacity as it does in the majority of nations abroad. For the first time since the United States signed The Hague Convention in 1981, the U.S. Department of State has reported in two consecutive years that the number of reported outbound cases of American child-citizen abductions has declined.

Specifically, during 2012 there were 799 reported international parental child abduction cases filed with the United States Central Authority representing a total of 1,144 children.  Previously, in 2011 there were a total of 941 reported international parental child abduction cases filed with the United States Central Authority, representing a total of 1,367 children. 

Thus, the reduction by 142 filed cases represents a decline of 15% of reported abduction cases from 2012 from 2011.  During the same reporting period, there were 223 fewer children internationally kidnapped in 2012 from 2011, representing a 16.3% decrease of total children abducted.

Comparatively, there were 1022 reported international parental child abduction cases in 2010 representing 1,492 children.  Thus, there has been a reduction of 223 reported abduction cases from 2010 to 2012, representing a total decline of 348 children between the two years. This represents a two year decline from 2010 to 2012 in reported cases by 21.8%, and a 23.3% reduction over the same two year period in the number of children kidnapped.

The decline in the reported number of international parental child abductions of American citizens represents a significant development and bespeaks of the tremendous educational outreach effort by the United States Department of State’s Office of Children’sIssues as well as non-government organizations such as but not limited to the I CARE Foundation and the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children to raise awareness of parental abduction amongst lawyers, judges, law enforcement, and targeted parents to that children may be protected.  However, it is important to note that despite a groundbreaking shift in child abduction statistical growth trends previously realized, we strongly affirm that criminal international parental child abduction continues to be a destructive epidemic in the United States and abroad that must be met with new abduction prevention laws and government policies, while significant efforts to educate courts, law enforcement, social workers, and at-risk parents of the many issues of child kidnapping diligently continue.

It is important to note that while the number of ‘reported cases’ of international parental child abduction have declined, the number of ‘unreported cases’ of abduction remains a significant concern for both government agencies and non-government organizations dedicated to preventing abduction.  Previously, the I CARE Foundation issued a report that the number of yearly unreported cases of abduction is believed to equal between 100% and 125% of all reported abduction cases.  We have no reason to change this forecast.  Thus, though there are no measurable statistics on unreported abduction cases, it would be reasonable, though not conclusive, to anticipate that the number of unreported cases of international child abduction have also declined.

While there is much to be pleased about regarding the significant decline in the reported international parental child abduction rate and forecasted decline in unreported cases of abduction, a great concern critically worth noting is that the number of children actually legally returned home after they are kidnapped remains to be estimated at only 10% when considering the total number of reported and unreported cases.

The reality is that children who are internationally abducted do not come home.  Sadly, many are lost forever.

One of the major facets of abduction prevention is education, and raising awareness of abduction threats to at-risk parents clearly has demonstrated a clear and measurable impact on the number of reported abduction cases.

Clearly and unquestionably, educational outreach programs directed toward raising international parental child abduction awareness are working!  Still, there is a long way to go.

The I CARE Foundation and the organization’s leadership have been actively involved in increasing awareness of child abduction while assisting a large number of parents protect their at-risk children. 

One of the I CARE Foundation’s most dynamic and significant educational outreach programs that have had measurable results is the ‘Parent Blogger Educational Outreach Program’.  Under the program, highly influential parenting bloggers with a large global readership of followers have written a series of informative educational articles concerning the pandemic of international parental child abduction, including warning signs, risk factors, and actionable steps an at-risk parent may take to prevent abduction.  This grassroots effort led primarily by mothers who write and blog to raise awareness has been a tremendous success and has resulted in a significant number of successful child abduction prevention cases to occur.   Collectively, the extraordinary participants of the ‘Parent Blogger Educational Outreach Program’ have reached millions of parents, some who may have been directly at risk, or who may have known another parent and child at risk of abduction.  In addition, the reach of these incredible parents willing to help protect children at risk of abduction has had a global impact on the prevention of child abduction as blogger participants were located on every continent and the millions of their readers blanketed the globe.  Clearly, the effort of these parent writers has made a significant difference in protecting lives, both in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere!

With the recent success of efforts put forth by child advocates everywhere to stop abduction, we are reminded that child abduction is a cruel and dangerous act against a child.

With grave concern we acknowledge that hundreds of young children each year are murdered by theirparents in the United States, and that there is a clear statistical correlation of filicide in nations abroad and abduction similar to reported United States and Canadian government statistics of parental child murder.

As this report cites in detail, international parental child abduction is a severe criminal act of kidnapping committed by a parent against a child and the targeted left behind parent. International parental child abductors commit grave crimes against their child, including the act of abduction as well as the acts of child abuse and neglect.

According to numerous studies and reports including those issued by the United States Department of Justice and Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police, an abductor exhibits significant sociopathic tendencies, and generally does not act in the best interest of a child, but conversely, the act of abduction and the acts after the child-snatching cause both serious short-term and long-term damage that may, on many occasions, be irreversible. Sadly, acts of identity stripping, parental isolation, and removal of the bond between the abducted child and targeted parent speak nothing of the fact that filicide: the act of parental child murder is real. So too, tragically, is the reality that children who have been abducted and who have had their identity stripped during an abduction exhibit an alarming number of characteristics that are exhibited in individuals who commit suicide.

For the majority of child advocates who work tirelessly to protect children, especially advocates who are not in the business of profiting due to the tragedy of a child being kidnapped, what we fight for are lives - children's lives.

In our capacity as directors of the not-for-profit I CARE Foundation, which has successfully assisted reunited numerous internationally kidnapped children with their targeted left-behind parents taken from around the world, while also preventing an exponentially larger number of children from international parental child abduction, we and our colleagues have worked tirelessly at conducting extensive research in the area of child abduction.

The I CARE Foundation’s volunteer activity has included playing key roles in legally reuniting many abducted children, writing and working diligently in the passing of abduction prevention laws and leading in lobbying efforts to have existing policies modified so that the capacity to protect children from kidnapping would be increased, in our creation of a national attorney network of educated lawyers willing and ready to assist at-risk children and their families,  in our capacity as researchers and educators to study the global issues of international parental child abduction and publish our findings in a way that may drive policy, and in our efforts to create a grassroots educational awareness movement by working with leading parent bloggers and writers with large followers, who have shared with their audiences the grave issues of abduction.

Though great strides have been made over the past two years, and we hope that the child abduction trend will continue to decline, we do have reason for concern.  Our apprehension is due in part due to the reality that though abduction rates have declined in the last known reporting fiscal year of 2012, there remains a glaring failure by the courts and law enforcement to punish international parental child abductors even though the act itself is a federal criminal act that is a known form of child abuse.  Without concern to be held accountable for their actions, parents who contemplate or carry out abduction will do so with a sense of immunity.  Without holding kidnappers accountable, children at-risk of abduction remain vulnerable.  

In addition, it is critical to recognize that chasing parents who attempt to legally reunite with their kidnapped child face incredible difficulties in doing so. The challenges faces are discussed in this report in detail; however, they include but are not limited to failures by nations to uphold international treaties such as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the outright failure of nations to enter into any international treaty, receiving-country prejudice at the trial court level on legal action taken by a left-behind parent, grave financial challenges faced by a targeted chasing parent, and direct physical dangers faced by a targeted parent if they should attempt to reunite with their abducted child.

Clearly, child abduction prevention advocates are making an impact through an assortment of outreach programs that are raising awareness at the at-risk parent level, the trial lawyer level, and within the courts, as demonstrated by the second consecutive year of abduction rate declines.  However, for parents presently attempting to reunite with their kidnapped children, the challenges they face are grave as explained herein. 


REPORTED CASES OF INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION


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. 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." In the 2010 annual report Ms. Jacobs continues to voice concerns over the increasing numbers of our child-citizens who have been wrongfully removed or wrongfully detained.

Similar sentiment has been shared in reports issued by the U.S. Department of State since this time.  There is no question that the challenges that parents and children of abduction face are significant.

However, during 2012 there were 799 reported international parental child abduction cases filed with the United States Central Authority representing a total of 1,144 children.  Previously, in 2011 there were a total of 941 reported international parental child abduction cases filed with the United States Central Authority, representing a total of 1,367 children.  Thus, the reduction by 142 filed cases represents a decline of 15% of reported abduction cases from 2012 from 2011.  During the same reporting period, there were 223 fewer children internationally kidnapped in 2012 from 2011, representing a 16.3% decrease of total children abducted.  Comparatively, there were 1022 reported international parental child abduction cases in 2010 representing 1,492 children.  Thus, there has been a reduction of 223 reported abduction cases from 2010 to 2012, representing a total decline of 348 children between the two years. This represents a two year decline from 2010 to 2012 in reported cases by 21.8%, and a 23.3% reduction over the same two year period in the number of children kidnapped.


UNREPORTED CASES OF INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION


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 so few 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.


PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION IS A SEVERE FORM OF CHILD ABUSE


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.


EXTREME DIFFICULITES IN RECOVERING AN ABDUCTED CHILD


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.



REASONS WHY ONE PARENT CRIMINALLY ABDUCTS A CHILD


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. Their intent is simple: to make the other parent suffer as much as possible by depriving that targeted parent with the love and connection to their own child. Nearly every published study on this subject has concluded that an abducting parent has significant, and typically, long-term psychological problems and may in fact be a danger to their child.

We take the time to acknowledge that in certain cases of parental child abduction, a parent claims to have no other choice but to flee the other parent due to serious, grave, and ongoing forms of abuse. We acknowledge that in many abduction defenses found under Article 13 of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an abducting parent will often claim mental, emotional, and physical abuse by the other parent as part of their defense to sanction their criminal behavior of abduction. However, we must also acknowledge that domestic violence is a very real, measurable, and in many cases, an ongoing crime that has limited law enforcement safety controls. We acknowledge that there are parents who must flee for their and their child’s safety due to failures by law enforcement and courts to protect their safety, combined with a habitual abuser who aims to cause grave hurt to the targeted parent.

In addition, and 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 and signed into law by Governor Charlie Crist. Florida's new preventative legislation will take effect on January 1, 2011. 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."


IMMIGRATION MIGRATION AND ITS AFFECT ON CHILD ABDUCTION CASES


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.”



DEPARTMENT OF STATE’S OFFICE OF CHILDRENS ISSUES


The Office of Children's Issues has worked diligently to educate at-risk parents of abduction via an assortment of outreach programs.  The leadership at OCI has placed a particular emphasis on abduction prevention, which in turn has demonstrated remarkable and measurable results including two consecutive years of significant abduction rate declines.

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.


About the Authors:

Peter Thomas Senese is the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation, a highly respected child abduction prevention advocate and a successful chasing parent in accordance to the rules of international parental child abduction law established under the Hague Convention.  Under Peter’s leadership, the I CARE Foundation has assisted reunite many children who have been internationally kidnapped with their left-behind parents while also working tirelessly to prevent the abduction of an exponentially larger number of children. Peter advocated for the passage of the State of Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ (CAPA), heavily contributed to raising public awareness of the previously widely underutilized federal child abduction prevention program; specifically, the ‘Prevent Departure Program’ (PDP) that is now more commonly implemented in aiding targeted parents and their child from abduction in certain case scenarios, worked diligently to have ‘Senate Resolution 543 – the International Parental Child Abduction Resolution’ unanimously passed calling for a complete revamping of how the United States government handles abduction. In addition, Peter has spoken as an expert witness before numerous government bodies, including hosting a forum on international parental child abduction at the United Nations at the request of the U.S. Department of State in his capacity as the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation.  Peter is the creator/writer/producer of the educational documentary film series ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction’, a best-selling author whose upcoming world-wide book release focusing on international parental child abduction and titled ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ has been critically acclaimed as a call-to-arms against child abduction. Peter is the writer of an extensive number of influential articles and essays pertaining to IPCA. He has created and oversees a comprehensive website dedicated to child abduction prevention and good parenting (www.chasingthecyclone.com) where numerous essays and may be found, including the eye-opening report ‘International Parental Child Abduction And Human Trafficking In The Western Hemisphere’ Peter co-authored with Ms. Carolyn Vlk.  Dedicated to bringing about new child abduction prevention laws while creating dialogue that may reform certain government programs and protocols so that they may better serve targeted children and their parents, Peter Senese is a strong supporter of The Hague Convention and The Department of State’s Office Of Children’s Issues.

Carolyn Ann Vlk is a renown child abduction prevention advocate and a Founding Board of Director Member of the I CARE Foundation as well as a member of the Special Advisory Board of the Amber Watch Foundation. Carolyn drafted the landmark State of Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ that will be enacted on January 1st, 2011. Ms. Vlk was highly influential in raising the public’s awareness on the little-known, highly effective child abduction prevention federal program titled the ‘Prevent Departure Program’ and  worked diligently to have ‘Senate Resolution 543 – the International Parental Child Abduction Resolution’ Carolyn is also a writer/producer of the highly educational documentary film series titled ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction’, and, is the author of numerous essays and studies on parental child abduction, including the groundbreaking report titled ‘International Parental Child Abduction And Human Trafficking In The Western Hemisphere’ (2010). Carolyn is dedicated to assisting parents and their children who are targets of international child abduction, and is committed to bringing about positive reform and change in law and government protocol that has been established to aid at-risk children. Ms. Vlk is a supporter of The Hague Convention, The Department of State’s Office Of Children’s Issues, and the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA). Carolyn is a loving and dedicated mother to her children, and fought rigorously to protect her own child who was a target for potential abduction that she went so far as to draft legislation that has now become new law in her home state of Florida.