child custody

International Parental Child Abduction Prevention For At-Risk Families During Travel

The issue of international parental child abduction continues to be a serious and growing problem around the world.  Each year there are thousands upon thousands of unsuspecting parents and children that become victims of this horrific crime. Don’t be mistaken… international parental child abduction is a crime as it is a severe form of abuse against not only the child, but also the left behind parent.  Those that are part of the team of the I CARE Foundation are very aware of the challenges that are present when faced with having to deal with a child that has been abducted… so prevention is always the key!  A child that is protected from international abduction is one that is able to live as they should… free from abuse and free from fear.

3e5fe-travel-consent-form-side-2When we look at abduction prevention, one of the most effective tools readily available to parents is the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form, specifically protecting a child from wrongful retention in a foreign country which accounts for approximately 85-90% of all international child abductions. If your child is going to be traveling abroad, as a parent you should seriously consider utilizing this proven effective travel consent form to protect your child from abduction.  Being proactive is the key as the majority of parents who have become victims, have rarely seen the warning signs that may have told them the other parent was planning to kidnap their child.

Peter Thomas Senese, the Executive Director of the I CARE Foundation shares, “The travel document does not simply act as a parent consent form allowing a child to travel abroad but reinforces a child’s return to their country of origin based upon affirmation requirements that remove the majority of an abductor’s legal defenses to remain abroad in connection with Hague law.  The consent form is a tool that can be utilized by parents around the world, as well as attorneys who are trying to protect abduction. If a traveling parent refuses to sign the document, then under no circumstance should the other parent or a court permit a child to travel abroad as there is a heightened increase to an abduction threat.”

As you read this you might think to yourself… “This could never happen to me“.  Generally every parent that has become a victim would have, at some point, said the same thing. The parents that need to pay most attention to this information are those that are involved in relationships that are strained or are in the midst of a divorce or separation, as well, those that are involved in child custody disputes,  These parents should be very aware of the risks involved when it comes to your child traveling abroad – in particular if your child’s other parent has strong ties to a foreign country. Another important aspect to this – if you happen to have a custody agreement that states that your child must travel, never assume that a court order is enough to ensure that your child will return home safely because this is just not the case.  A parent that is already willing to kidnap their child, which is an extreme form of child abuse, is not going to think twice about ignoring the requirements of a court order.  The simple fact is that without the protection of a travel consent form that has immediate and clear ramifications attached to it, such as the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form, there are no guarantees that your child will return home.

Understand that the intent here is not to be blunt, but rather share the cruel reality that faces so many families today.  Is there a chance that yours might be one of these families?  If so, don’t hide your head in the sand.  Being proactive and being aware of the warning signs of international parental child abduction, could well protect your child from a life of abuse at the hands of his/her other parent.

If you don’t fit into any of the criteria above, you should still be aware when traveling. Parental child abduction can commonly occur when both parents are traveling with their child to a foreign country. Perhaps you have planned a family vacation over, say, Christmas holidays during which, something like this could happen: The traveling family arrives in the foreign country they are visiting, and once they have landed, the would-be abducting parent files false claims of abuse and neglect against the other parent… the unsuspecting parent!  Once this is done, they notify the other parent that they and the child will not be returning back to the country of original jurisdiction.  From here, the targeted parent is generally forced to return back home without their child where they then need to seek legal assistance.

This is an example of what the cruel and unforgivable world of international child abduction can be like.  But once again, it is important to note, that as a parent there are things that can be done to help protect your child and to help protect yourself.

The I CARE Foundation focuses a great deal of their efforts on abduction prevention and has been involved in an growing number of cases in both prevention and reunification. The work of those involved with the Foundation speaks for itself.  At the forefront of this work is Peter Thomas Senese, who shows time and again that protecting children from parental abduction is a commitment that he stands unbowed to so that children and their families may never know the nightmare that is the world of international abduction. There are numerous sworn testimonial letters from individuals regarding the advocacy and volunteer work that Peter does each and every day.  As well, Peter has provided testimony to the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in regards to the issues that revolve around international parental child abduction.

And on a final note, it’s important to mention again about the 12.23% decline in the reported U.S. outbound abduction rate during the year 2013.  This past year’s decline brings the overall reduction in the outbound rate of international parental child abduction to over 38% since the I CARE Foundation began their advocacy efforts and working to bring an end to international abduction and trafficking.  As the I CARE Foundation continues it’s extensive work in advocating and protecting children we hope to see this trend continue in the year to come.  However, the truth is, there is still a great of work to do… so our efforts continue while we work to protect the innocence of children around the world.

abduction prevention 1 - small

To DOWNLOAD a copy of the International Travel Child Consent Form, please visit the I CARE Foundation’s official website.

Advertisements

Parental Child Abduction and the Serious Risk of Violence or Murder

Parentally Abducted Children Are At Serious Risk Of Violence or Murder 
At The Hands of A Parent Abductor


“Unfortunately, the threat of violence—and death—in these cases is all too real,” said Ashli-Jade Douglas, an FBI analyst in our Violent Crimes Against Children Intelligence Unit who specializes in child abduction matters.  “Most non-custodial parental abductors want retaliation. They feel that if they can’t have the child full time—or any amount of time—then the other parent shouldn’t have the child, either.”

The following statement shared on the Department of Justice’s official website should cause great concern for society as we try to protect our children from brutal crimes connected with abduction – and that includes murder.  The I CARE Foundation has been sharing this for some time: children of international parental child abduction are at risk of murder. The truth is – children are put in grave risk at the hands of their abducting parent.  Parental child abductors are willing to break the laws as well as the orders of a court – as well, they have no concern with perjury or contempt.  Parental child abductors kidnap children in order to cause the targeted parent hurt and suffering.  Simply put, the aggressive act of kidnapping – using a child to cause harm – is the reality of parental child abduction.

It is imperative that every social services program, every child welfare organization and every family protective service agency charged with investigating any claims of child abuse carefully analyze any allegations of abuse. Critically, these organizations must carefully scrutinize any claims made by a parent who was previously charged with child abduction, especially if a court determined that parent had committed a criminal act of child kidnapping, or in Hague cases during international parental child abduction that uses a civil procedure for the return of a child despite the federal act of kidnapping being committed, it is imperative that all social service personnel charged with investigating any claims of abuse or neglect made by a child abductor against their previous targeted parent be cautiously examined.  Critically, all social service agencies acting on a complaint against a child made by a parent child abductor must commence their investigation with the hard reality that the child was a victim of kidnapping along with other forms of serious abuse, and carefully review the sociopath tendencies of abductors.As published on the United States Department of State’s website, “When non-custodial parents resort to kidnapping, they believe they are acting in the best interests of their children. Although a minority of parental kidnappers may actually save their children by taking them out of the reach of the other parent, the motives of most parents who steal their children are not at all altruistic. Parents find a myriad of reasons or self-justification for stealing a child from another parent Some abductors will find fault with the other parent for nonsensical transgressions; others will steal a child for revenge.”

The State Department’s report includes, “[A] profile [of] the parent who shows signs of flagrant paranoid beliefs or psychotic delusions. In this situation, the intervention must focus on the child and his or her safety and well-being . . . Unfortunately, the other parent and the child must be informed about a safety plan at all times.”  Continuing, the Department of State’s report specifically states, “[The] profile [of an international parental child abductor] is the sociopathic personality.”

Again, nobody wants to think about a parent killing their child.

However, we must take into heavy consideration the statement by the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)  concerning the sociopathic behavior of abductors. Grave concern was expressed, “As with paranoid and delusional parents, sociopathic parents are unable to perceive their children as having separate needs or rights. Consequently, they often use their children blatantly as instruments of revenge or punishment or as trophies in their fight with the ex-partner. Hence, the sociopathic parent believes that domestic violence and child abduction can be perpetrated with impunity. Like paranoia, a diagnosis of severe sociopathy is rare (4 percent of the studies’ samples).

Filicide is not a term that I like to talk about, but the reality is, we need to talk about it more.  For those that are not aware, the term filicide refers to the deliberate act of a parent killing his or her own child.  In the United States, hundreds of children are murdered by their parents each and every year. Proportionately, filicide occurs everywhere. It is not a phenomenon isolated within American borders: parents do kill children. And we can’t put our head in the sand and think this does not exist.

According to a recent statement released by the FBI, there is a trend that I find incredibly disturbing coming from non-custodial parents – and that is the rate in which they are abducting and threatening to harm their own children… all with the intent of retaliation against the parent who has been given legal custody.

Now, with a large number of American children being born to unwed parents, along with the high rate of marriages ending in divorce, the reality is that there is an increasing number of cases where a single parent is going to have custody of the child. The FBI’s statistics show that between the years 2010 and 2012 there was an increase of 41% in child abduction cases that involved custody matters.  So if we add that to the increased number of those parents seeking retaliation through harming their own child – do we need to be concerned?  You bet we do!

In the FBI statement there were some recent cases of filicide that occurred at the hands of non-custodial parents:

  • In 2009, a non-custodial mother abducted her 8-month-old son from his custodial father in Texas. She told the father she killed the boy to prevent the father from employing his custodial rights and in retaliation for his alleged involvement with other women.
  • In 2011, a 2-year-old girl was abducted by her non-custodial father in California. A week later, both were found dead. The father committed suicide after shooting his daughter.
  • In 2012, a non-custodial father in Utah abducted and killed his 7- and 5-year-old sons and then committed suicide. He was angry over not being afforded sole custody of the children.

Ashli-Jade Douglas offers up this advice to help keep children safe:  “Custodial parents should inform schools, after-care facilities, babysitters, and others who may at times be responsible for their children about what custody agreements are in place so that kids are not mistakenly released to non-custodial parents.”

The common misconception that parental abductions are considered a family matter has to end.

Parental child abduction is a serious crime. The act of abduction leads to ongoing forms of abuse toward a child.

When a child is abducted they should immediately be considered to be in great danger!

Law enforcement agencies need to act quickly to ensure that these innocent children are not going to be harmed.  The sociopathic behaviors that a kidnapping parent exhibits has them believing in their own mind what they are doing is in the best interest of the child.  When we think again about the fact that many of these cases revolve around revenge or retaliation, you can see it’s not out of the question to have the ultimate revenge be at the expense of the innocent child… with the act of filicide.2abc2-icarelogo

This is all very disconcerting, but one thing is for certain:  raising awareness and stewarding the message about the warning signs of international parental child abduction is the key.  This awareness has played a role in reducing the number of reported outbound child kidnapping cases originating in the United States by 15% during the last two consecutive years after nearly 30 years of continued growth.

If I may ask you to please share the warning signs of international abduction – you may very well be getting this information out to a family that needs it… ultimately possibly saving the life of an innocent child.  It is that desire, that is so ingrained in me, that I continue my fight each and every day!

Together we can, and are, making a difference.

– The I CARE Foundation –