Last year, parents abducted nearly 2,000 children to or from the United States. That’s 40 children taken from their homes and from their loved ones each week. Abductions traumatize children, their parents, friends, and family. International Parental Child Abduction is a painful scourge for so many, and it is something that deeply concerns me.
At the State Department, we are committed to preventing child abduction and to helping the children and families caught up in these very complex situations. Our dedicated staff in the Office of Children’s Issues works everyday to support families and children at risk. We help parents access the tools available to prevent international abductions, such as our Passport Issuance Alert Program.
When an abduction does occur however, we work with parents to identify the appropriate response and find the resources that can help bring their children home. In 2010, for example, we helped more than 575 children return to their homes and families, both in the United States and in countries around the world.
This work extends beyond individual families. So, we are encouraging foreign governments to join us as parties to The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Today we are treaty partners with 68 countries, and we want that number to grow. This convention is a necessary tool for resolving these difficult cases and giving more children the opportunity to come home.
On this National Missing Children’s Day, let’s continue to stand up, speak out, and do our part to keep our must vulnerable citizens safe. And let’s help children around the world come home.