Black History Month: Tageana Griffith

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Tageana Elizabeth Griffith, who was abducted by her non-custodial mother from Niagara Falls, New York on June 13, 2010, at the age of five. She is now 13 years old.

Tageana was born in Jamaica, but lived in the U.S. at the time of her disappearance. Her parents had joint custody. The court confiscated Tageana’s passport after her mother, Patricia, took her to Jamaica for a “vacation” without permission. Pretty much right after the passport was returned, Patricia took Tageana back to Jamaica again and this time came back without her.

(Incidentally, most major airlines in the U.S. now have a rule that if a minor child is traveling out of the country with only one parent, not both of them, this parent has to produced signed and notarized permission for the trip from the other parent, or proof that they have full custody rights, in order to fly. That’s to prevent stuff like Tageana’s abduction from happening.)

Patricia was sentenced to 18 months for parental abduction. The authorities believe Tageana is living with her maternal grandmother in Jamaica, but they can’t find them. Meanwhile her father has been looking for her for almost eight years now. All he’s got are some pics of her taken on her tenth birthday, five years after she was kidnapped.

Missing children a problem for Jamaica’s poor

This blog is pretty US-centric, but this article from Jamaica caught my eye. Basically, it says that missing children are a terrible social problem among the poor and working classes in Jamaica, but are virtually unknown among the rich. Apparently a lot of kids run away or are lured away from home due to poverty-related circumstances. Of the 1,200 children reported missing since September, only a little over half of them have returned home by now, and three of them have been found dead.

A related article says hardly anybody has subscribed to Jamaica’s Ananda Alert system, which seems to be some kind of Amber Alert type thing for cell phones. So not only are poor Jamaican kids vanishing left and right, but nobody seems to care.