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Child abduction is the abduction or kidnapping of a child (or baby) by an older person and is one of the causes of missing children .

Several distinct forms of child abduction exist:

  • A stranger removes a child for criminal purposes:
  • A stranger removes a child, usually a baby, with the intent to rear the child as their own
  • A parent removes or retains a child from the other parent's care (often in the course of or after divorce proceedings).


Abductions by strangersEdit

Perhaps the most feared (although not the most common) kind of abduction is removal by a stranger. The stereotypical version of stranger abduction is the classic form of "kidnapping," exemplified by the Lindbergh kidnapping, in which the child is detained, transported some distance, held for ransom or with intent to keep the child permanently. These instances are, however, rare.[1]

By stranger to raise as ownEdit

A very small number of abductions result from (typically) women who kidnap babies (or other young children) to bring up as their own. These women are often unable to have children of their own and seek to satisfy their unmet psychological need by abducting a child rather than by adopting. The crime is often premeditated, with the woman often simulating pregnancy to reduce suspicion when a baby suddenly appears in the household.

An example of child abduction is the case of Montana Barbaro, stolen in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday 7 August 2004. A male attacker knocked the mother to the ground, and a female removed the baby. They fled in a car. Montana was recovered some 40 hours later, unharmed. Similar cases include the abductions of Alex Griffiths, in 1990, and Abbie Humphries, in 1994. Both were infants snatched from their maternity ward, shortly after birth, by women intending to raise them as their own children.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Parental child abductionEdit

Main article: Parental child abduction

By far the most common kind of child abduction is parental child abduction and often occurs when the parents separate or begin divorce proceedings. A parent may remove or retain the child from the other seeking to gain an advantage in expected or pending child-custody proceedings or because that parent fears losing the child in those expected or pending child-custody proceedings; a parent may refuse to return a child at the end of an access visit or may flee with the child to prevent an access visit. Parental child abductions may be within the same city, within the state region or within the same country, or may be international. Studies performed for the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reported that in 1999, 53% percent of family abducted children were gone less than one week, and 21% were gone one month or more, NISMART National Family Abduction Report, October 2002

Depending on the laws of the state and country in which the parental abduction occurs, this may or may not constitute a criminal offense. For example, removal of a child from the UK for a period of 28 days or more without the permission of the other parent (or person with parental responsibility), is a criminal offense. In many states of the United States, if there is no formal custody order, and the parents are not living together, the removal of a child by one parent is not an offense.

Many US States have criminalized interstate child abduction and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) has undertaken a project to draft a uniform state law dealing with parental abduction. [1]

International parental child abductionEdit

Main article: International child abduction

Serious problems can arise when parental abduction results in moving a child, with a parent, across an international border. The laws of the countries are different, and a foreign child custody order may not be recognized. The United States added specific language to American passports in the mid-1990's concerning international parental abduction.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty and legal mechanism to recover children abducted to another country by one parent or family member.

History of Recovery Industry

International child abduction is not new. A case of international child abduction has been documented aboard the Titanic. However, the incidence of international child abduction continues to increase due to the ease of international travel, increase in bi-cultural marriages and a high divorce rate. Parental abduction has been defined as child abuse. [2] International child abduction is a federal felony under U.S. law. [3]

The Hague does not provide relief in many cases. A private industry emerged to address this gap. Covert recovery was first made public when Don Feeney, a former Delta Commando, responded to a desperate mother's plea to locate, and recover her daughter from Jordan in the 1980's. Feeney successfully located and returned the child. A movie and book about Feeney's exploits lead to other desperate parents seeking him out for recovery services. [4]

Feeney's efforts drew other's into the covert recovery industry, with promises of big money, thrills, and the desire to be a hero. The recovery industry is not regulated. There is no educational, or licensure requirements, and no oversight. Websites advertising recovery services exploded over the Internet by the late 1990's. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the parents that responded to recovery agents, reported paying enormous amounts amount without having their child returned. Parents, as well as recovery agents, were being arrested in foreign countries in failed recovery attempts. Still yet, parents, and recovery agents died in failed recovery efforts. The 1990's also began the formation of grass roots organizations addressing international child abduction worldwide. Most were founded by left behind parents.

The first and largest of these parent advocacy networks was P.A.R.E.N.T. International. (Parents Advocating for Recovery through Education by Networking Together). http://www.parentinternational.org and http://parentinternational.com Founded by Maureen Dabbagh, author of, "Recovery of Internationally Abducted Children", [5] Dabbagh sought to find a way to bring children home without the use of force, or mercenary type tactics. She publically denounced the practice of charging parents enormous amounts of money for the "hope" of possibly recovering their child. Dabbagh is a recognized expert in international child abduction. [6]

Dabbagh proved that children could be recovered from non-Hague countries without the use of para-military type tactics. She founded Dabbagh and Associates, which provides professional services to law enforcement, lawyers, NGO's and parents. http://www.dabbaghandassociates.net

By 2008, The Hague Permanent Bearu endo0rsed the use of mediation in resolving abduction. The first advanced Cross border Mediation training was held in Miami in 2008. However, this "family court" style model was not effecdtive for non-Hague cases, and Previously published research findings on the use of mediation in parental kidnappings ( American Bar Association, Center on Children and the Law) had reported that these cases were not appropriate for mediation. In 2009, Maureen Dabbagh presented a model she had developed and utilized successfully for non-Hague cases, incorporating charactoistics found from various ADR methodologies such as Peach keeping and Crisis Negotiation.

Children abducted for slavery Edit

Main article: child slavery

There are reports that abduction of children to be used or sold as slaves is common in parts of Africa.

The Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel paramilitary group operating mainly in northern Uganda, is notorious for its abductions of children for use as child soldiers or sex slaves. According to the Sudan Tribune, as of 2005, more than 20,000 children have been kidnapped by the LRA.[7]

See alsoEdit

Notes Edit

  1. A study commissioned by the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that there were only approximately 115 stereotypical stranger abductions in 1999. NISMART National Non-Family Abduction Report October 2002

External linksEdit


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