By Sean Cruz
Portland, Oregon—Each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 100,000 American children experience the trauma of abduction by a parent, a family member or other persons known to the victim.
Some children are abducted back and forth repeatedly, others disappear forever.
Existing state and federal laws have proven to be inadequate to deal with the problem, as the staggering numbers attest.
In all cases, the harm to the child victim is so severe that the best strategy is to prevent the abduction from taking place in the first place.
Aaron’s Law, passed by the Oregon legislature in 2005, is designed to achieve two goals: (1) discourage child abduction by providing financial sanctions against the perpetrators and requiring them to attend counseling sessions to better understand the harm they are inflicting; and, (2) provide relief to the victims with court-appointed mental health and legal professionals assigned to protect the child.
Aaron’s Law authorizes the court to assess the costs of the professional services to the perpetrators, which ought to serve as an additional deterrance.
Had Aaron’s Law been in effect in 1996, the Cruz children would have never been abducted, and Aaron Cruz would still be alive.
Senate Bill 1041 creates a civil cause of action for the crime of child abduction, applying if the child is removed from the state of Oregon.
Oregon is the first state in the union to take this approach, which is independent of either criminal or traditional family court processes.
See the iReport posting here: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-165264
The full text of Aaron’s Law is here: www.aaronslaw.blogspot.com