Parental kidnapping up 50 percent last year

April 13, 2013

Source: The Portugal News

The president of the Portuguese Association for Missing Children (APCD) has revealed that the number of cases of parental kidnapping in Portugal increased last year by 50 percent and described the situation as “worrying” due to a lack of mechanisms that are quick enough to tackle the problem.



Speaking to Lusa News Agency Patrícia Cipriano explained that statistics regarding missing children in Portugal and in Europe are “unreliable and not even close to reality” as figures often include several disappearances of the same child.
Because of this situation the APCD began counting the number of disappearances in Portugal.

“We discovered that, in 2012, there was an increase of around 50 percent in the number of cases, for example, of parental abduction (cases where one parent keeps a child from the other)”, Ms. Cipriano said during the inauguration of the association’s new Lisbon headquarters.

This is a matter that “rather worries” the association, because “Portugal does not have mechanisms that are quick enough to deal with this situation”, she stressed.
“We have very serious situations that have nothing to do with the economic crisis, or with the fact there is a marriage then a divorce between people of different nationalities”,

Patrícia Cipriano explained, adding: “what is happening is that people have a feeling of impunity with regard to this type of behaviour.”
Many times, when a father or a mother wants to hurt the other, they will do so by “using their children as instruments”: “We have witnessed situations that are very problematic and sad” and which have had “very serious” consequences for the child, she recalled.

Portuguese Boy
In some cases children had been ‘missing’ from the age of five until 15, and developed “serious symptoms of being very emotionally affected; they have panic attacks, sleep poorly and wet their beds late on.”
“It is sad, essentially, that there are no authorities in Portugal that clearly understand these phenomena”, the head of the APCD lamented.
She further added that there are situations in which “the courts have come to a complete standstill, they can’t resolve it and they don’t act in the child’s best interest, I don’t know if that is because of a lack of training or in some cases just a lack of common sense.”
The new headquarters aim to serve a region in which a growing number of disappearances is registered year-on-year; Lisbon and Vale do Tejo.
It is also open for members of the public to report cases of children being abused or sexually exploited.
Quoting figures from the GNR police, Patrícia Cipriano recalled that in 2012, 251 children under the age of 18 were reported missing in Lisbon and 114 reports of sexual abuse involving minors under the age of 16 were also taken.
On top of that, every year between 1,500 and 2,000 cases of missing children are investigated by the PJ police.
“Evidently, in many cases these incidents are not real disappearances, but occurrences”, Ms. Cirpriano explained, elaborating that if one child runs away from an institution ten times, that counts as ten separate incidents.

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Help reunite families destroyed by parental abduction

July 6, 2012


As our nation grapples with important issues involving a weak economy and out of control spending, there is one troubling concern that hits closer to home: the growing number of child abductions by non-custodial parents. These kidnappings are devastating and occur too frequently, but they can be solved with help from the public.

Bianca Lozano, a girl who has not seen her own mother in sixteen years, turns 18 years old on August 19th. Bianca was kidnapped during a weekend visit by her non-custodial father, Juan Antonio Lozano, when she was only 18 months old. Evidence indicates that Juan Antonio Lozano originally fled to Mexico after taking Bianca from her mother.

Her mother, Deana Herbert, has spent the last 16 years searching for a single clue about the safety and well-being of Bianca. She continues to work with federal, state and local law enforcement, Harris County officials, the State Department, the Texas Attorney General’s office, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the FBI and Crime Stoppers in Houston to locate her daughter.

This tragedy was brought to my attention shortly after I took office. We have consistently worked to encourage community awareness and to keep pressure on law enforcement to be diligent in solving this case. The communities both in the US and Mexico can help law enforcement with tips or any information they may have concerning Bianca’s whereabouts.

I urge the public to be aware of this tragedy and to aid in our efforts to find Bianca and other children like her. I am counting on the good nature of all Americans to think carefully if you have seen this girl or her father and to let authorities or my office know if you have any information about Bianca’s whereabouts.

Last year, at least 1,500 children were unlawfully taken to foreign countries by a parent who had been living in the United States. Only 578 of those children were returned home.Roughly one third of the abducted children ended up in Mexico because of the parent’s ties to extended family or because of Mexico’s proximity. Unfortunately, international parental abductions are growing rapidly, which makes finding these kidnapped children all the more difficult.

Five minutes is too long for a mother to go without knowing the whereabouts of her child. Sixteen years is unbearable. I implore the good people of Texas and Mexico to come forward with any information.

As the father of two wonderful children, I can only imagine the heartbreak Deana has felt over the past 16 years, missing her daughter’s milestone moments. We have tried to work with the State Department on this matter but time is running out. Due to the International agreement of the Hague Act and Bianca’s 18th birthday, the State Department is very limited in what they can do moving forward to help this family. That is why I am asking for the public’s help to look carefully and help connect this girl with her mother.

Bianca, now 18, has a light-brown, semi-oval-shaped birthmark on her right shoulder blade. At the time of her disappearance she had pierced ears. If anyone has any information about her location, please contact the FBI or local law enforcement. Bianca Lozano deserves to know that she has a mother in Texas who loves her very much and wants to know she is safe.

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