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Friday, November 15, 2013

Endangered Missing: Erica Lynn Parsons

Photos: Erica Lynn Parsons (L) circa 2011 at age 13 years-old
(R) age-progressed photo released in 2013 at age 15 years-old

Rowan County, N.C. - The Rowan County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations are searching for missing juvenile, Erica Lynn Parsons. A relative advised investigators, on July 30, 2013, that Erica has not been seen since November of 2011.

Erica's adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons, say the girl went to stay with relatives in the Asheville, North Carolina area, at the age of 13 years-old, and have not seen her since. Sheriff investigators have since determined the information provided by Erica's adoptive parents was not true.

Investigators with the Rowan County Sheriff's Office say Erica's adoptive parents have been uncooperative and that they have uncovered disturbing signs of foul play. No charges have been filed, however.

But police say they've been unable to locate the grandmother. or any other relatives besides Erica's 20 year-old brother who reported her missing. Casey and Sandy Parsons "were unable to provide any known locations" or contact information, officers wrote in one of two affidavits seeking warrants to search the Parsons' house and a shed on property owned by Sandy Parsons' father.

Law enforcement officials have declined to discuss details of the investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting the sheriff's office.

The Parsons recently moved from their Salisbury home about 40 miles north of Charlotte to the Fayetteville area to escape news media attention. Their attorney, Carlyle Sherrill, told The Associated Press his clients had nothing to do with Erica's disappearance.

Erica Lynn Parsons is described as a white female with brown hair and brown eyes, weighing 85 pounds at about 4'3" to 4'5" tall.  

Anyone with information on Erica's whereabouts is encouraged to call the Rowan County Sheriff's Office at 704-216-8700 -OR- FBI Charlotte at 704-672-6100 -OR- your local FBI office -OR- the American Embassy and/or Consulate -OR- submit a tip on the FBI's website by visiting https://fbi.tips.gov 

Written by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International
Additional Sources: FBI.gov | NYDailyNews.com

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wireless Emergency Alerts & Using Today's Technology to Save a Child's Life

In August of 2013, Californians were awoken by an AMBER Alert broadcasted on their smartphones as it was accompanied by an unmistakable loud noise. While many were upset that their phones were utilized in this first ever mobile device broadcast since its upgrade in 2012, others found solace in the prospects of what this could mean for future abductions. Instead of the upset individuals involving themselves with issues concerning private property, they should be celebratory that a service such as this one exists. How does this technology impact a user’s ability to help rescue a lost child?

Subscribers - Since 2005, people have been given the option to accept AMBER Alerts on their mobile devices which allowed them to dictate what areas these alerts pertained to through the Wireless AMBER Alert program. As a paltry number of subscribers opted-in to the service, the FEMA operated Wireless Emergency Alert program incorporated the AMBER Alerts into its plan and functionality. This means that users were unable to opt-out if they don't want the responsibility of being a social-conscious person. Only 700,000 people subscribed to the service prior to the integration by FEMA - which is incredibly low when you consider that there are almost 1,000,000 in the city of San Jose, CA alone.

Geographically Speaking - Wireless Emergency Alerts are targeted at the cell towers of where the emergency is taking place. Connections to these cell towers then receive the Amber Alerts accordingly. This is why Californians received the alert and Utahans didn't. This is unlike traditional methods of displaying AMBER Alerts using apps or sign-up distribution that are designed to gather information from websites or cover one pre-designated region. These approaches are rather generalized given the nature of the information.

Wider Coverage - Perhaps you've seen the LED displays above highways alerting drivers of a kidnapping and the vehicle to watch out for. While this helps those on the highway stay mindful of what to look for, it does nothing for the gas station attendant who is authorizing a gas pump of the vehicle he should be watching for while playing Angry Birds. Since there are more than 91 million smartphones in the United States alone, this provides a wide coverage area, based on geographical location pertaining to the alert, in order to enlighten anyone who has one of these devices on them.

In Their Shoes... Take a long look at your child. Consider how you would feel if he or she wasn't on the bus after school one day. Would it be maddening to you? Wouldn't you want someone to help you? It's one thing to think about what you would do if that situation were to happen, but no one truly knows how far into desperation they will plummet if his or her child were simply gone. Wouldn't you want someone to point out where your child is thanks to a quick message on a smartphone? Or would you rather wait in anticipation that your child will be found by authorities hoping he or she is still breathing? It's such a small inconvenience to help reunite a missing loved one before the unthinkable could happen.

Many lives can be saved every day if people were more mindful of the society they live in. Too many believe that such a situation couldn't happen to them until it does. The fear of losing a child can stress a parent beyond tolerable levels. The next time you disregard an AMBER Alert, take a look at your child and consider yourself blessed. Does it really put you out of your way to accept a message that a child is missing?

Author Bio:
Sara Dawkins is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of nannypro.com.  Learn more about Sara Dawkins.
Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sex Trafficking State Report Cards: California Receives Lowest Grade in the U.S.


Every year since 2011, Shared Hope International, an organization focused on eradicating sex trafficking, gives out "Report Cards" to each US state, which are graded under a study called Protect Innocence Challenge. California had the lowest score in the nation, and was one of six states that received a failing grade of "F."

The goal of the Protect Innocence Challenge  and grading system is to address each states efforts to prevent and protect sex trafficking victims, as well as outlining legislative issues that must be addressed in order to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Which again, California is failing at.

According to the Shared Hope website, the Protected Innocence Challenge is a comprehensive study of existing state laws designed to inspire and equip advocates. Under the Challenge, every state receives a Report Card that grades the state on 41 key legislative components that must be addressed in a state’s laws in order to effectively respond to the crime of domestic minor sex trafficking. In addition, each state receives a complete analysis of this 41-component review and practical recommendations for improvement. 

Hawaii, California, South Dakota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Maine all received an "F" on their state report cards

As a native Californian, this makes me sad... and angry. Really California? We are a state full of supposed "forward thinkers," technical geniuses and billionaires, yet our schools are closing, we don't have enough basic public safety services, and oh yeah, we don't have the provisions in place to protect our most important and vulnerable assets... our children. Is something wrong with this picture, or is it just me?

Our biggest crime in California is a lack of criminal provisions addressing the demand for child sex trafficking. It really is the law of supply and demand. Eradicate the demand, and then there is no need for supply. While that may be a dramatic simplification of the issues, the concept remains the same. These pedophiles that pay to rape these young girls are just as much a part of the problem as the pimps that traffic them. More needs to be done, and can be done to protect children from a life on the circuit. These children go from town to town, John to John, being bought and sold as a piece of meat. A life far worse than any prison sentence, yet the perpetrators of these horrific crimes often get off with a slap on the wrist. It's time for that to change.

You can help create change. Please support the following legislation:

H.R.2805 "End Sex Trafficking Act of 2013" (Amends the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to increase penalties for individuals who exploit, solicit or attempt to solicit a child sex trafficking victims)

H.R.1732 "Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2013” (Amends the Social Security Act to require state foster care programs, which receive federal funds under the Social Security Act, to report on current and future efforts to address the human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children in their care)

Written by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

LOCATED SAFE - CALIRONIA AMBER ALERT: Henry Guler-Romero


11/7/2013 UPDATE - ALERT CANCELED - CHILD IS SAFE, SUSPECT IN CUSTODY

 
(L) Missing Child: Henry Guler-Romero, (R) Suspect: Mesut Guler
They are believed to be traveling in a Tan GMC Envoy with CA PLATE #6HIL892

11/7/2013 UPDATE - ALERT CANCELED - CHILD IS SAFE, SUSPECT IN CUSTODY 

Baby Henry was found safely on Wednesday evening as Mexican officials located him and his father, Mesut Guler, near the border of Mexico and Arizona.

Mesut was stopped at a checkpoint in Mexico near Arizona when authorities discovered the warrant for his arrest. At which time, Mesut Guler was arrested and 2-week-old Henry Guler-Romero was found unharmed.

Police said in a release that Guler is the baby's father after earlier reports regarding relationship between the man and the baby was not immediately clear.

U. S. Border Patrol is coordinating with Mexican Authorities on the transfer of Guler and his son to U.S. authorities, according to investigators. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

POSTED 11/6/2013: Henry Guler-Romero, a 1-month-old from Sunnyvale, California, has gone missing, prompting authorities to issue an AMBER Alert. Mesut Guler may have taken the child.

The AMBER Alert signs were displayed along Bay Area freeways and around California, reported KRON-4. 

The child has black hair and brown eyes. The child’s height and weight are not known, but officials described the boy as Hispanic.

Mesut Guler is a 22-year-old male, around 6 feet tall, 120 pounds, and Turkish. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

The suspect is said to be driving a tan GMC Envoy with a California license plate #6HIL892. The vehicle has a large American eagle on the rear window.

California officials said that a “child abduction occurred on” on Tuesday at around 4:14 p.m. in Sunnyvale.

The CHP said that the suspect’s phone signal was picked up in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego.

Updated Post: Written by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International
Original Post Source: , Epoch Times: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/347083-amber-alert-henry-guler-romero-in-sunnyvale-missing-mesut-guler-possible-suspect/

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

National Runaway Prevention Month: Runaway Children & Bullying - A Preventable Problem

It is estimated that between 1 and 3 million runaway youths are living on the streets of the United States at any given time. Child Quest works to prevent the disappearance of these children, and to aid their reunification and recovery once they are rescued from the streets. Preventing the disappearance of children can be a daunting task. While parents can take precautions against exposing their kids to dangerous strangers, they can often be powerless to prevent their children from running away. A child who has the opportunity and motivation to run away, and considers the life they are leaving too bleak to sustain can head out of the door with deep determination. And from there, the child more often than not, finds themselves falling into a horrible lifestyle on the streets from which it can be very hard to return. Children from every demographic and socio-economic background run away from home. Their reasons are multiple. Some have been abused at home. Others may believe themselves to be escaping poverty. However, a large number of these child runaways are trying to escape the persistent torments of bullies. 

The Influence of Peers 

Much of what happens to children is (as hard as this might be for parents to hear) out of the control of adults. Their interactions with their peers and their experiences at school have just as much of a formative and emotional impact upon them as their home experiences do – and kids can be truly vicious to each other. Bullying is a major problem, which can leave dreadful emotional scars. Bullies have an enormously negative impact on their victims, which may last for decades if not for the rest of their lives, or even result in death. Bullies render their victims deeply depressed, filled with self-loathing and unable to bring any positivity at all to their lives. Bullying instills a sense of worthlessness and powerlessness which even the happiest and most stable of home lives cannot combat.

Furthermore, bullying and its effects are becoming harder than ever to eliminate. Whereas in previous decades bullied kids could view their home as a sanctuary in which they were safe from their tormenters, these days the bullies can get at them even in their homes through the internet and cell phones. Cyberbullying is a dangerous phenomenon, which has, unfortunately, claimed lives. Children bullied in person and then bullied over the internet have no respite from the suffering, and may feel that their only escape option is to run away. 

Spotting the Signs 

To add to the problem, the symptoms of bullying often go undetected. Children already feeling worthless and powerless due to the actions of bullies often think that telling an adult will make it seem as though they cannot hold their own, making them feel even more pathetic. Thus many children suffer in silence, enduring the bullying until they can take it no more – whereupon they may do something drastic, like run away. Parents unfortunately can often do nothing other than be vigilant for patterns of behavior which may indicate bullying. If children are continually withdrawn, sullen, and persistently express a lack of desire to engage in activities with their peers, these may indicate that they are being bullied. Similarly, loss of possessions or damaged possessions, unexplained cuts and bruises, and perhaps excessive clinginess to those that offer them love can all be symptoms of bullying. It is important to note that these symptoms should develop as a pattern – every child has down days, or bruises due to being a kid and living life. Parents should not assume that their child is suffering at school purely because they came home with one bruise one time, or were sad for one evening.

One of the best ways in which to tell whether or not a child is being bullied is to watch how they behave with food, and to note their attitude towards their bodies. While it is a rare teenage girl indeed who completely loves the way she looks, bullying based around the way people look is growing ever more vicious in this body-obsessed world, and can develop into serious problems for the victims. Boys and girls are increasingly becoming more and more worried about the way they look, their lack of confidence in their bodies often exacerbated by nasty comments from their peers. If your child is displaying any of the early symptoms of an eating disorder, it could be a sign that they are being bullied. Eating disorders in themselves are a terrible blight upon a life. As well as damaging their health, eating disorders may give sufferers a huge desire to escape the agonies of a life in which they have little control over what they eat. Watching for signs of excessive body-consciousness, over-exercising, or pickiness around food can help parent’s spot symptoms in their child before it becomes a more serious problem. Noticing the signs early means that one can work to eradicate the bullying and build their child’s confidence before that child becomes ill or, perhaps worse, runs away to escape their problems. 

Combating the Problem 

If it comes to light that your child is being bullied, take it as an opportunity to bond with your child. While it may seem like an insurmountable problem, don’t despair, there are things you can do. Your child’s school should have an anti-bullying policy in place which can stop the bullying in its tracks if successfully implemented. However, working on the emotional impact that bullies have is perhaps most important. Encourage your child to open up to you. Talking about how the bullying makes them feel can help the bullied child to express emotions and begin to come to terms with those feelings. Reassuring a child that it is the bullies, and not themselves, who are to blame, can also help greatly with their self-esteem. Never, ever dismiss things they tell you as too silly or insignificant to worry about – you may feel as though you are allaying their fears, but in fact you are dismissing concerns which, to them, feel hugely significant. By helping their self-esteem and reassuring them that they are loved, liked, and important on their own merit can go a very long way to raising self-confidence. Providing a sense of security can stop a child from feeling that the only way to escape their bleak or bullied life is to run away.

### 

National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM): When a youth runs away, the impact is felt throughout the entire community. All of us - individuals, businesses, community groups, teachers, elected officials, and human service agencies - are encouraged to participate in National Runaway Prevention Month. Working together to identify resources and to help youth develop life skills can make the difference between a youth running away and/or finding needed resources. 

Written by Melissa Hardesty
Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

Monday, November 4, 2013

Human Trafficking and the Unspoken Gender, “What About The Boys?”



Image Credit: Alexander L. Tremayne

Having surpassed the illegal arms trade in terms of global prevalence, human trafficking is now set to surpass the sale of illegal drugs in the not too distant future. It is a growing problem within all fifty states of the US, as well as globally, and one that is not yet fully acknowledge by governments around the world, despite being a $32 billion-a-year industry. It is estimated that the trafficking of children makes up for around 50% of all human trafficking. And although child trafficking is sometimes highlighted in the news, the focus is often heavily placed on the exploitation of young girls, yet girls are not the only victims. Boys are often trafficked and subjected to inhumane treatment, the likes of which most of us cannot comprehend. Theirs is a story seldom told, but equally important. 

"Trafficking does not discriminate. It just exploits."
-
Kat Rosenblatt, Anti-Human Trafficking Activist

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines human trafficking as, “the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.” Trafficking can involve the kidnapping of children for exploitation involving sexual abuse and other forms of abuse too, like forced labour. And whilst 797,400 children last year were reported missing in the US alone, the vast majority of those children were soon returned home.

Yet for every two girls that go missing, a boy goes missing too. Child soldiers, recruited all over the world by governmental and paramilitary organisations, as well as rebel groups, also represent a form of human trafficking. While the State Department’s most recent report on trafficking, which has a great deal of insightful information in it, does not break down the gender of young children forced to serve as modern-day slaves and soldiers, the charity War Child offers some statistics on this point: 

  • As part of their recruitment, children are sometimes forced to kill or maim a family member - thus breaking the bonds with their community and making it difficult for them to return home. 
  • 60% of all child soldiers are boys 
  • Both genders used as cooks, messengers and even spies

Whilst the overall percentage of boys being trafficked appears to remain stable at around 8-10% in relation to global human trafficking as a whole, in numerical terms this constitutes a significant number – yet, even one boy lost to human trafficking is one child too many. And it’s not just very young boys who are exploited; adolescent males are, too.

In a dilemma which inextricably links both young girls and older boys, the ‘Loverboy’ Syndrome, involves the use of adolescent males to groom and manage young girls for sex, often acting as their pimps and forcing young girls to prostitute themselves. It is a tragic story for both girl and boy, often hugely impressionable both – the young girl looking for affection or friendship, perhaps even an escape from her life, and the adolescent male, pressured into becoming a pimp by neighborhood gangs and ring leaders, unable to say no for fear of the repercussions. This too, is a form of child trafficking, with both perpetrator and accomplice as victims.

There are cases where girls and boys are kidnapped and forced into the sex trade, but “in most cases they are seduced by men who make them feel loved and offer them other stability,” according to Maria Clara Rodriguez, the outreach and education supervisor at Kristi House, an advocacy centre dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse.

Child trafficking is a wide and diverse phenomenon, affecting all kinds of interactions between adults and children of all ages. The UNODC tells us that between 2007 and 2010, in terms of trafficking victims (all ages) which have been detected globally, the share of boys amongst the total number of detected victims was 8-10%, with girls accounting for about 15-20%. These figures, when placed side by side, show a pressing need to view the trafficking of boys as an equally serious phenomenon to that which affects girls.

In Europe and Central Asia, between 2007-2010, the percentage of boys detected as victims was 4%, and for girls, the figure was 15% (the remainder being 20% of men and a staggering 61% of victims detected, being women). In Eastern Europe, the statistics for child trafficking looking specifically at detected victims was 3% for boys and 6% for girls, a much narrower gap than in Europe and Central Asia (UNODC, Global Report On Trafficking In Persons, 2012).  Egypt though, unlike other countries however, experienced a high volume of trafficking in boys, between 2009 and 2010. (UNODC, Global Report On Trafficking In Persons, 2012). This sharp increase has been attributed to the fact that Egypt recently passed a law making adult trafficking an offence. And now, it seems that young boys are, more than ever before, at risk of being trafficked. (UNODC, Global Report On Trafficking In Persons, 2012).

The effect and impact of trafficking on boys, though still a little talked about phenomenon, is starting to catch the attention of charities which focus on child welfare and human trafficking. Now, a new peer support project for boys and young men who have been victims of human trafficking has been set up by The Children’s Society and Ecpat UK, to offer support for those boys and adolescent men who have experienced sexual exploitation, forced labour and those who have been press-ganged into criminal activities. Current statistics from other sources on the trafficking of boys in the UK paints a picture of an emerging trend – that boys may be far more susceptible to trafficking than previously imagined. Some experts have suggested that 38% of the 549 children identified as potential victims of human trafficking in the UK last year were boys, and have gone on to say that the real number could be far higher, as many victims simply go undetected.

The Human Trafficking Centre reports that the number of children and young people trafiicked in 2012 rose by 12%, as compared to the year before. The alarming increase in the trafficking of boys in some countries around the world should not be viewed as an anomaly, but an indication of potential future harm to boys and adolescent males. Little seems to be available at present in terms of research in this area, but it must be explored if we are to understand the phenomenon of human trafficking in its entirety, and protect children from the horrors of human slavery.   

Written by Natasha Phillips: Website | Twitter
Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International