I CARE Foundation’s Peter Thomas Senese – Summer Is International Child Abduction Season: How We Can Be Heroes To Children
Peter Thomas Senese is a best-selling author who has used his voice as a well-known and respected novelist to help prevent children at risk of international child abduction and trafficking while also heroically reuniting more than a few kidnapped children with their parents. As the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation, a self-funded non-profit organization, Peter and the I CARE Foundation have played an important role in the dramatic decline in the number of international parental child abductions originating from the United States by 15% over each of the last two years (2011 and 2012). In fact, Peter Thomas Senese and the I CARE Foundation hosted a conference on abduction at the United Nations at the request of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program several months ago.
The I CARE Foundation can trace its roots to Peter’s widely critically acclaimed novel ‘Chasing The Cyclone’; a fast-paced legal thriller about a father heroically searching for his internationally parentally kidnapped child who has disappeared into a sea of billions of faces at the hands of malice by the child’s other parent. In fact, it has been said that Peter Thomas Senese’s ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ is a book of miracles; a view supported by many testimonial letters from parents around the world. With a deep sense of dedication toward others, Peter has become an outspoken child abduction prevention advocates: the I CARE Foundation – which Peter has donated 100% of his book sales to – not only has helped pass new laws and sought to modify government policies geared to protect children, but the I CARE Foundation and Peter Thomas Senese have helped create many miracles, including reuniting internationally kidnapped children with their parents while also stopping an even larger number of abductions.
Today, and with the school summer holiday vacation period here, many parents, particularly those involved in multinational or multicultural relationships that have soured or that have ended in separation or divorce must be aware that the summer school vacation period, international parental child abductions will devastate a large number of unsuspecting families around the world.
Unfortunately, the majority of targeted individuals do not even know that an abduction scheme exists, or the relative ease that exists to abduct.
It is vital that parents who may be at risk of abduction know the warning signs of international parental child abduction.
If you think it is easy to have a child who is either criminally abducted to another country or who is wrongfully detained in that country returned, you better think again. According to the I CARE Foundation, it is estimated that only 10% of all internationally abducted children are ever returned.
Now as some of you know, I have shared information about abduction because of the concern from children. Well, last week the Department of Justice issued a report stating that children kidnapped by one parent from another are at grave risk of extreme violence, and could even be murdered by that parent!
This concern – child murder – is something our friend Peter Thomas Senese and the rest of the team at the I CARE Foundation have been fighting to stop.
Peter was willing to share some insight on his work with the I CARE.
Are children really put in high-risk situations when they are abducted by one of their parents?
Yes. International parental child abduction is a criminal act of kidnapping that typically has many associated crimes attached to it. The victimized child is used as a pawn by the abductor to seek revenge against the targeted parent. In the process, not only is the child a prisoner of the abductor, but that child is brainwashed into thinking the targeted parent is a bad person. Parental alienation is a severe form of abuse. However, as pointed out this past week by the Department of Justice, children are put into grave risk of violence, and even murder by the parent kidnapper. It is crazy. And this concern – the reality of severe abuse – is why society must not tolerate parent child abductors under any circumstance.
How are international family vacation schemes used to abduct a child?
Usually the parent intending to abduct the child will create a scheme to legally travel abroad with the child. Sometimes this parent will invite the child’s other parent to accompany them, while other times they may not. However, once they get the child onto foreign soil, they will state that they are not returning, and all too often – and men and women do this near equally – but they will state that the other parent is abusive and returning the child to the country of their original jurisdiction is a grave risk that puts the child in danger. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting targeted parent, the scheming abductor often makes a false police incident report against them, citing threats of abuse, violence, or even the threat of murder. And just like that, the targeted parent’s rights to access of the child are usually removed pending an investigation. And it doesn’t matter that the targeted parent has a right of custody. Now, the rules of law in a foreign country apply. And while the targeted parent is being charged, the scheming parent often is in court seeking a sole custody and a restraining order against the targeted parent . . . who thought they were going on a summer family vacation.
What percentage of abducted children are taken during the summer?
It is estimated that nearly 85% of all international abductions take place during the summer. Of these cases, the I CARE Foundation forecasts that over 50% of these cases are wrongful detentions of a child traveling on a summer vacation.
I have read many sworn testimonial letters written by parents you have helped, including reuniting many children from around the world. Why do you help?
It has been a privilege to assist other parents and their children targeted for abduction. And the reason why I help is because I can. Pretty simple: during the time I experienced family abduction I learned a great deal because the schemes, fraud, and abuse directed at me and my child were extensive. During that time, I never knew how extensive a pandemic this was. So I made a promise to myself that I would try to help other families.
You have legally helped rescue and reunite a considerable number of children. Is there any reunification that stands out?
They’re all memorable. Several come to mind: I remember calling a now dear friend who had his child abducted for 8 years that his son was flying 34,000 feet above Africa in route to New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport, and that he better get to the airport in 9 hours! And there was the time I was with a wonderful mom who had been diagnosed with severe cancer right before her child’s abduction: it was an incredible feeling to be standing with her at 4 a.m. at the airport as her child got off the airplane and raced into her arms. There are many stories like this. Each one is unique. Each is extraordinary. I wish there were more . . . we fail a lot more than we succeed.
When a child is victim of parental abduction, who pays for the child’s return?
In the United States, the targeted parent does even though the abduction is a criminal violation of the federal International Child Abduction Prevention Act.
Unfortunately when Congress succeeded to become a signatory member of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, they did not authorize the U.S. Department of State to provide financial assistance for a parent who is trying to protect their kidnapped child. The entire burden falls on the targeted parent. Recovery can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hopefully, with the passage of Senate Resolution 543 and federal reports such as the one that was just issued by the Department of Justice citing the grave risk a child is placed in, governments everywhere, including the U.S. and Canadian governments, will provide financial relief for targeted families.
If a parent has custody, why can’t they just go into the country where the child is being wrongfully detained and bring that child home?
Because once they attempt to, they could be charged with abduction in that country and put in jail. It’s insane.
How easy is it to remove a child from a country’s border?
Very easy. In fact, just last week a father abducted a little boy from Colorado to Canada despite an Amber Alert being issued. He was able to travel right across the border!
There are limited exit controls in place to protect a child. One policy that does exist is the Prevent Departure Program. However, there are grave concerns associated with a child who has a right to citizenship to another country and dual passports. And policy under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative allows minors traveling by land or sea to the Canada, Mexico, the United States, and many Caribbean island nations to only present a photocopy of a birth certificate.
What can each of us do to stop international child abduction?
The U.S. child abduction rate has declined by over 15% during both 2011 and 2012 after nearly 30 years of high growth!
This occurred in great part because parent blog writers like you started to write about abduction and raised awareness of abduction warning signs. And I don’t say this lightly, but your wonderful stories about abduction prevention actually helped protect an abducted child. And though it might seem like a small act – to write about abduction – for the targeted mother who had her daughter abducted, your actions were nothing short of heroic, and in her eyes, as well as mine, the two of you are heroes.
I’ve said it often: the role of parent blog writers in raising international child abduction awareness has helped stop a large number of kidnappings, and has been nothing short of heroic. Parent blog writers have become heroes to at-risk children and their families.
What should a parent do if they believe their child is at risk of abduction?
The first thing is to immediately contact a qualified family law attorney. If international abduction is in progress, parents must contact law enforcement immediately, and then they should contact the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues. They should also open up a case with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. And they should read as much information about abduction as possible by visiting websites that extensively cover abduction such as the I CARE Foundation
You’re a best-selling author who has written a diverse collection of geopolitical thrillers, yet you have spent several years of your life dedicated to helping families in crisis. What can fans of your writing expect in the near future?
Granted, there was sacrifice needed in order to play a role in helping prevent abduction, and am I grateful that I may have been able to play a small part in this fight to protect children. My volunteer work required me to commit a great deal of my time to the I CARE Foundation and to the many families we have tried to assist. Part of what needed to be done is to create tools that would prevent abduction such as the International Child Travel Consent Form we are releasing in the near future. And the information shared – we have conducted a great deal of research and published extensively on the subject. So, I did utilize my writing skills . . . just in a very different way!
I am looking forward to finally publishing the hardcover of Chasing The Cyclone, which is presently available in e-book everywhere. And I am truly looking forward working on the nearly completed novels titled ‘Predators Games’, which is the sequel of ‘The Den of the Assassin’, and the sequel of ‘Cloning Christ’, titled ‘Quest’ . . . but right now, there is a war against international parental child abduction going on. Targeted parents may not realize they are about to become victims of abduction – so it’s our job to scream the alarm by letting them know the warning signs of abduction.
You are one of the most published writers covering international parental child abduction and have dedicated years of your life stewarding the message of abduction prevention and risks to a child. Have you seen any results?
I think the drop in the reported cases of outbound abduction by 15% during 2011 and 2012 speak for itself especially when the previous growth rate was nearly 20% per year, but there is another part of this story. The unreported cases of abduction associated with undocumented residents is believed to be at least 100% of the abduction cases, and though not measureable, I know the number of undocumented residents the I CARE Foundation helped has increased dramatically. I also know the number of abduction prevention cases has increased dramatically. And that’s because parents are becoming aware of abduction. Now let me make this clear: the decline in U.S. abductions is because child advocates everywhere have acted to raise awareness and stop these kidnappings. The work of active advocates today has been built on the trailblazing work of those who proceeded us.
(End Interview questions)
For more information on Peter Thomas Senese, please visit his official website.
For more information about the I CARE Foundation, please visit their official website.
To watch a video on summer abduction, please click here
And if you would like to get involved and lend your voice to help stop international child abduction, please contact the I CARE Foundation at email@example.com