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Feb 13

Don’t Think It Can’t Happen To You: International Parental Child Abduction

It’s hard to believe that we are about half way through February.  It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were in the midst of the Christmas holidays.  And… now nobody yell at me please… before long the kids are going to be out of school and families will be heading out on summer vacations.  I actually have a few friends that already have cottages booked and travel plans made… so it’s creeping up!  I’m just looking forward to the warmer temperatures!!

female-skier1-300x217I love family vacations!  When I was growing up we spent a number of summers up north at my aunt and uncle’s cottage.  It was a quaint, stone cottage that my entire family has very fond memories of.  Swimming in the lake… boat trips… lots of water skiing… my brothers chasing me around the cottage with crayfish (ugh!)… fishing and so much more.  I remember fishing with my Dad when he finally decided that it was time I learned how to take the fish off the hook myself.  So as he was explaining this to me… we didn’t realize that the fish I had caught was actually a sunfish… and as I went to ‘run my hand down the back of the fish’, his fins stuck up and ‘stabbed’ my hand… yes, literally… stabbed my hand!  When you are about 8, that’s sure what it felt like!!  Funny, to this day, I’ve never touched another fish again… unless it’s on my dinner plate!  That being said, I will always cherish those memories of our summer vacations together.

Summer vacation, just like Christmas vacation, is a wonderful time for many, but not for all.  Each may include travel plans and visiting family, but the planned ‘vacation’ may not always be in the best interest of all family members.

There are two very prominent times of the year that put children at a much greater risk of becoming victims of international parental child abduction.  One, as you may have noticed recently, is the Christmas holiday season, and the other… yes, you guessed it… is summer vacation!  Prior to the Christmas holiday season, Peter Thomas Senese and the I CARE Foundation started an educational campaign aimed at parents to help raise awareness of parental child abduction.  Raising awareness is one of the important steps in reducing the number of abductions that take place.  Reducing the number of abductions is certainly a goal, however the reality is, if one abduction occurs, it is one too many!

I CARE Logo

So, I’m curious… how many of you are sitting there, reading this and thinking, ‘this would never happen to me‘?  I bet there’s a lot of you.  The fact is, you don’t know whether this could affect you or not.  Do you think that the number of parents that have been forced to become ‘chasing parents‘ expected that their spouse or their ex was going to kidnap their child or children? That they would take them out of the state or across international borders?  Through my connection with Peter Thomas Senese, I have been introduced to a number of parents that have been thrown into that world, and I’m pretty sure that most, if not all of them would not say that they thought they would be at risk.  The reality is that there are not enough parents out there that think international parental child abduction is a concern.  It IS a concern… it’s a growing concern… and although there have been some positive things put into place to help protect children, there is still a lot of work to be done.  And it is organizations like the I CARE Foundation that are at the forefront of this battle… and thank goodness that they are.

Peter Thomas Senese 2Recently, Peter Thomas Senese, on behalf of the I CARE Foundation and Pacifica, announced that he will be starting work on the upcoming film, 150,000 Internationally Kidnapped Children.  Picture in your mind if you will,150,000 children. That would be comparable to filling the seats of two football stadiums in the United States.  Now imagine them all disappearing!!  That is the anticipated number of children that may be internationally abducted by one parent from another over the next 10 years in the United States, Canada and Mexico combined.  This is why I said it is a growing concern!  Those numbers are staggering!  The film, 150,000 Internationally Kidnapped Children will introduce viewers to the world of international parental child abduction… a world that no parent ever wants to become a part of.  It will share several intriguing parental child abduction cases while taking viewers through the legal system, the psychological trauma of kidnapping and it’s affects, as well as the government agencies that deal with international abduction and their existing policies.

I have been sharing information on behalf of Peter Thomas Senese, Carolyn Vlk, Joel Walter, Patricia Lee and the rest of the I CARE Foundation about international parental child abduction for almost a year now.  I am a big supporter of the I CARE Foundation and the work that they are doing to help protect innocent children.  I am thankful that they are doing the work that they are and although I am a parent that has not had to deal with the horrific crime of parental child abduction, I do believe in standing up for what is right and helping to protect those that need protecting.  So here, I try to do my part by sharing what I have learned over the past year.  Now I could look at myself and say, ‘do I consider my child at risk for my spouse to abduct or attempt to abduct?‘  No, not really… but… and this is the key… I AM aware of many of the warning signs.  I HAVE taken the time to educate myself.  And as more parents take the time to do this, I expect there will be less and less abductions actually taking place.  Education IS prevention right?6555198645_052ea1494c

So, as a parent, I ask you to be aware.  Though there are no fool-proof warning signs, there are some indicators that should not be ignored, and being aware of these may actually help save a child’s life.  This child may not be yours, but perhaps it may be a friend’s child… or a relative.  Did you know that we are all just three degrees of separation from knowing someone affected by international parental child abduction?

If you do a little more reading on Mom-ology or some of Peter Thomas Senese’s websites, you will see that the effects of parental child abduction are severe and long term.  Not only is there a risk of your child being murdered by the other parent, but there appears to be a definite correlation between suicide and parental child abduction.  The I CARE Foundation will be providing more information about this connection in the near future.

As parents, we all need to be aware of the warning signs and the issues based around international parental child abduction… but there are some parents that should pay very close attention to these signs.  Those parents that are in a relationship with an individual who originates from or has family abroad should be very aware of the potential warning signs… especially during the high risk times where families are planning vacations.  Another group of parents that should be very aware of travel plans are those that are in the midst of a high-conflict separation or divorce… especially, once again, if one parent has ties abroad.   Now seriously, don’t be thinking I am saying that your next vacation could mean that your child is going to be abducted.  That is not what I am saying.  But if you are aware, you are being proactive.  These criminal abductions are well thought out and planned very often months in advance and often involve the help of other family members or friends.

Now, if you happen to be in a multi-cultural relationship and you think there may be a chance that your spouse or partner may try to abduct your child, please take this information very seriously and act now taking the steps necessary to protect your child. .  Peter Thomas Senese has created an educational series called Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction and I am sharing the section titled Abduction In Progress for further reference.

As I mentioned earlier, there have been some very positive developments in this area and one of those came from the U.S. Senate the end of last year.  Senate Resolution 543, also known as the International Parental Child Abduction Resolution, unanimously passed on December 4th, 2012.  The Resolution (S.R. 543) takes a strong stand against international parental child abduction by ‘condemning the abduction of a child by one parent to another country’.  This is now considered an act of kidnapping against an innocent child and is NOT a child custody case under ANY circumstance.  S.R. 543 allows law enforcement to hold criminally responsible anyone associated with the abductor as a person who knowingly aided in a conspired crime.  This is really such an important step in the right direction toward bringing an end to parental child abduction!  Finally it is considered a crime and it IS punishable by law!

So, if you want to help make a difference in this battle, take the first step today and educate yourself.  Share this information.  As I said, it may save a child’s life… and to me, that’s sure worth a few minutes of my time.

From one parent to another, together, we CAN make a difference and help protect the lives of our children.

Jen

As a Canadian blogger and the mom of a child on the autism spectrum, Jen shares a lot about life while having a child with autism... raising autism awareness and the need for acceptance. She is an active advocate both online and in the community for those with autism but also service dogs. Also as a volunteer for the I CARE Foundation Jen shares a great deal of information about international parental child abduction (IPCA) in an effort to help raise awareness and educate parents about the risks and warning signs of international parental child abduction. Mom-ology has been ranked in the Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs for 2012 & 2013, one of the Most Influential Canadian Mom Blogs for 2013 as well as placing in 1st (Disability) & 3rd (Activism & Social Justice) for the Canadian Weblog Awards 2013.

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