Congressman Panetta Introduces Resolution to Combat International Parental Child Abduction

February 7, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) introduced a bipartisan resolution to recognize and observe the month of April as “International Parental Child Abduction Month” to raise awareness of, and opposition to, international parental child abduction.

According to the Department of State, from 2008 to 2015 more than 9,000 American children were taken abroad by a parent to obstruct their current or former spouse from seeing the child. International child abduction has devastating long-term impacts on both the children and the left-behind parents. Research shows an abducted child is at significant risk of short- and long-term problems, including anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and aggressive behavior. Their left-behind parents face similar struggles.

"Every year, hundreds of Americans experience the horror and tragedy of international parental child abduction. Compounding the problem, it is incredibly difficult for parents to secure the return of their children," said Congressman Panetta.  "Designating April as “International Parental Child Abduction Month” raises awareness of this difficult issue and demonstrates Congress’s intent to end international parental child abduction."

Bipartisan cosponsors of the legislation include Representatives Don Bacon (R-NE), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Andy Harris (R-MD), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Bill Posey (R-FL), Hal Rogers (R-KY), Adam Smith (D-WA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), and Eric Swalwell (D-CA).

"It should alarm all of us that thousands of children in the U.S. have been abducted and removed from the country by one of their parents. The trauma inflicted on these children can be irreversible and have devastating consequences to their well-being and growth. I join my Democratic and Republican colleagues in recognizing and observing International Parental Child Abduction Month to raise awareness on this serious issue and get us closer to stopping this abuse," said Congressman Cisneros.

"Unfortunately, the tragedies of parental kidnapping are all too common in this country. Even the communities of eastern Kentucky are no stranger to these difficult and emotional situations," said Congressman Rogers. "I have been proud to help affected mothers in the past and I hope this resolution sends a message that Congress stands with all rightful parents waiting to be reunited with their beloved children."

"Unfortunately, many Americans are unaware that international parental child abduction is a serious issue. That is why I am so proud to support this bipartisan resolution, introduced by my friend Jimmy Panetta, which will help raise awareness and educate Americans on the devastating impacts of international child abduction," said Congressman Suozzi.

The Coalition to End International Parental Child Abduction and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children have also endorsed the legislation.

"International Parental Child Abduction is a crime, a human and family rights violation and an ongoing form of child abuse. It creates incalculable damage and suffering for the families devastated by it throughout the United States. We are grateful for Congressman Panetta’s leadership in introducing this resolution and hope it will lead to a whole of government commitment to repatriate the thousands of American children that have been kidnapped by a parent to a foreign country," said Jeffery Morehouse, Executive Director, Bring Abducted Children Home and Founding Partner, the Coalition to End International Parental Child Abduction.

"At the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we help hundreds of families each year whose children have been abducted and taken out of the United States by a parent," said John Clark, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.  "We support this legislation which aims to raise awareness about international parental child abductions and highlight the devastating effects this crime has on both the child and the left-behind families. We know that increased knowledge and awareness will help ensure a robust response when this crime occurs and to empower the public, the courts and lawmakers to help prevent future abductions."