The U.S. Government
United States of America

Various government reports state there are approximately 250,000-350,000 cases of child abduction in the United States each year. Annually, over 10,000 of these cases involve American children abducted by parents to foreign countries because of bitter custody disputes between multi-national or multi-cultural couples. Sadly, many of the children are taken to countries that disregard U.S. custody orders such as Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and China.

The painful consequence is American parents never seeing their children again. Exacerbating this horrific crime is an inept federal system that ignore the seriousness of parental abduction and continuously fails to take action to bring our children home. The injustice goes further. When a child from another country is abducted and taken to the U.S., American authorities have a 95% success rate of returning foreign children to their home countries. Why does our government give less attention to American children illegally held in other countries?

The crux of assisting other countries -- and not American parents -- falls on the lap of the U.S. State Department. According to a news report, the government often places diplomacy above the needs of American children and their parents. U.S. Senate and U.S. House committees have heard testimonies from parents of abducted children about the unprofessional, inadequate, and lethargic effort by the U.S. State Department's dysfunctional Office of Children's Issues (OCI), which is the designated agency handling international child abduction cases. A left-behind parent told a congressional hearing that OCI remains a problem rather than a solution: “This is shown by their lack of return correspondence, their constant turning over of personal, their ridiculously vague and soft treatment of violations by other Central Authorities, their inherent lack of knowledge and training regarding foreign laws, and their overall lack of concern for the parents they are supposed to support.” Besides the Office of Children's Issues providing little or no assistance to left-behind parents, the U.S. Justice Department needs improvement in handling this crime. A senior official from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children admits there is no one within the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) who is professionally trained to manage international child abduction cases. Reports by the U.S. Government Accountability Office concur that changes are needed.

The answer is the Parental Abduction Recovery, Enforcement, and Network Training Act, also known as the PARENT Act. This proposed legislation calls for the transfer of responsibilities and funding, regarding international child abduction prevention, from the Office of Children's Issues to a new division in the U.S. Justice Department. This future division of trained prosecutors would focus only on interstate and international child abduction cases. The PARENT Act concentrates on a better distribution of resources to educate legal, judicial, and law enforcement officials by using professional organizations connected to child abduction prevention across the country. The PARENT Act also calls for the need of mediators to help resolve abduction cases as well as greater jail sentences for abducting parents.

It is time to stop the Office of Children’s Issues from mishandling its international parental abduction prevention duties. Thousands of parents, grieving over the loss of their children, have been ignored, neglected, and mistreated by this office. We need an agency that doesn’t cater to foreign officials and makes empty promises, but takes aim at protecting our children and enforces our parental rights. Consequently, we need experts to handle one goal, bring our abducted children home. The PARENT Act calls for Congress to make this a reality.

For a review of the PARENT Act, please go to:

We, the undersigned, call on the members of the United States Congress to take action to stop the hundreds of thousands of international and interstate parental abduction cases each year by sponsoring the Parental Abduction Recovery, Enforcement, and Network Training Act (PARENT Act).

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The Support the Parental Abduction Recovery, Enforcement, and Network Training Act (The PARENT Act) petition to The U.S. Government was written by Larry Synclair and is in the category Government at GoPetition.