Archive for October, 2009

Excellent article on runaway children

The New York Times has a featured article about runaways and the life they face on the streets. None of this is new information, of course. The facts that runaways are usually running away from some sort of serious problem and that they frequently engage in illegal activity to survive has been documented since the 70’s. Still, more coverage of the issue is needed as many still do not consider it a serious problem.

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And in an unrelated tangent

The blog appears to be getting hits from a site in Polish. The pictures seem to indicate it’s about wrestling, but since I speak no Polish I’m not certain that’s the case.

If someone from there speaks English and Polish I’d appreciate knowing what that is all about.

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The inscrutable missing

This is a term I use, for lack of a better one, to describe the missing with no details. Sometimes it is over many years. Typically these cases are ones that I get a poster notice from NCMEC from and it merely says where the person was last seen. Occasionally it’s not even that – the poster for Bob Boyes has no text on it at all. There has to be more than what’s on the poster; the information about a scar and what he was last wearing aren’t on there but wound up on the Doe Network and the Charley Project anyway. Searches of news archives have yielded nothing about him. Aleacia Stancil is another. I’m fairly certain an infant can’t just vanish with no information. But I’ve found none. A few cases – Princess Perez, Rene Romero, and Skyla Marburger are some – have no details on the poster, but it’s still easy to find some information on what happened to them. (All three are probably dead: Princess and Rene killed by a parent, Skyla supposedly of natural causes.) Sometimes the poster gives a bit of information that is no help – Robert Bowling vanished with his sister, who has since been found. But who took them in the first place? Was she found alive or deceased? Jose Fuentes Pereira was only seven when he was last seen. One online source mentions he might be in New York, but he’s far too young to have left on his own. Could he be with a relative? He’s listed on the California Missing Persons Registry as a runaway, but that could be a clerical error. It’s not limited to very old cases, either. Sergio Rivera was only ten. Same issue; really too young to run away but no other details given to help.

These are not teenagers who may have run away; they are children under the age of ten. The information might be out there but not online, as in the case of the Matory sisters, Yolanda Williams, and Sir-Kristopher Marshall. Only Sir-Kristopher has family looking for him, and the circumstances were sketchy until I called the investigating department and asked what was going on. Unfortunately, I can’t do that in every single case I wonder about. Hopefully an article or other information will pop up on the case as it often does.

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Podcast on international parental kidnapping

I just found a podcast on international parental kidnapping. Patrick Braden, father of abducted Melissa Braden, speaks on the subject. It’s almost ninety minutes long, but it’s well worth a listen and covers a lot of the bases of the problem.

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David Goldman, Chris Savoie, and the public face of the left-behind parent

Both the case of David Goldman and the one of Christopher Savoie have gotten much media attention recently, and since I have not written on the former and have only recently heard of the latter, I felt it was time to write about both.

If there was to be chosen a public face of the left-behind parent, I could think of few better than David Goldman. He was never accused of abuse by his ex-wife. When she died after giving birth to a child in Brazil, any presumption of Sean Goldman’s well-being contingent upon staying with his mother were negated, and he has worked tirelessly to promote his son returning to New Jersey. Much of this publicity has brought attention to the problem of parental kidnapping, especially international kidnapping. Like with many high-profile disappearances, it makes others aware of the problem. On David’s site, linked above, the forums are devoted not only to his case but to many other kidnapping cases that are not nearly as high-profile. (Full disclosure: I am a member of the forums and have posted there many times.) The fact that his apparently ironclad case in a country that has signed the Hague Treaty is still being fought only indicates the lack of consistancy in such cases, as well as the overwhelming need in most of them to put citizens first rather than the best needs of the child. I am also aware some left-behind parents might despair over the case – if all that publicity and support hasn’t brought Sean Goldman back to the US, how will they succeed in getting their own children back?

Perhaps this is what Christopher Savoie was thinking when he decided to go to Japan and try to abduct his kids back. I do not like the idea of taking the law into your own hands in family abduction cases; it can only make matters worse. But on the other hand, he probably knew that he had no chance with the Japanese legal system. Japan has not signed the Hague Treaty, so the country doesn’t even need to make a pretense of trying to return kids. I know of only one case where a child was returned, and he did so on his own at fifteen. And in Japan one parent is expected to disappear after a divorce. (There is one case where a Japanese politician divorced when his wife was pregnant and has a son he has never seen.) Knowing all that, I can at least understand his motivations in trying a re-snatch. He tried to prevent his ex-wife from going to Japan in the first place but the courts said she could visit the country. He very well knew if she left there was a good chance she’d never return. Now he’s being charged with abduction, even though parental kidnapping is supposedly not a crime in Japan. Some have brought up the specter of “cultural relativism” in this case. While I accept that most countries do not share identical values, I am sure most will agree with me that ordering a parent to essentially vanish, and encouraging such behavior by not signing the Hague, is detremential to the child. Even under the idea of another culture’s values access to one’s child is a basic human right that should only be deprived if the parent is a threat to the child’s safety, which is not the case here.

He currently faces five years in jail. I don’t know if he will serve any of this, or will merely be deported. However, this could be the next face of the left-behind parent in the news. And with that could come the stream of publicity that may force Japanese law to change once and for all.

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One of the most outrageous comments I have ever seen in an article

I posted the link to the article about the recovery of John Calhoun before, but didn’t read the comments until later.

And was stunned by this comment.

The FACTS are the mom & son did not have to come back. They did and that tells me there is more to this story. The article alone reads a mother was forced to relocate to 2 countries and cultures to keep her son safe. She is a great mom until the sperm side can prove her guilt.

Let me get this straight. The mom’s wanted. She turns herself in, and the dad is assumed to be the bad guy until shown otherwise? I know that when a mom abducts her kids, people will defend her more than a dad who abducts, but the outrageousness of this comment still stuns me.

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