The Most Dangerous Kidnappers: Parents


January 28, 2013

Source: Abcnews

Despite what seems to have been a rash of children abducted by strangers last year, there aren’t any more than normal, and vastly greater numbers of children are kidnapped by their own parents and relatives — and those cases rarely generate headlines.

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Stranger abductions make up the smallest percentage of children reported missing every year. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children believes that stranger abductions are decreasing overall and projects that there will be approximately 100 of these kind of cases by the end of this year.

According to statistics cited by the NCMEC, most missing children are abducted by relatives or parents: a soon-to-be released report, the Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, referred to as NISMART-2, finds that 203,900 kids were abducted in 1999 by family members or parents. Approximately, 58,200 were “non-family” abductions — only 115 were defined as the frightening kidnappings by strangers.

Parental kidnappings do not spark media attention — and the sense of urgency from law enforcement officials — that the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the kidnapping and slaying of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion and this month’s abduction and rescue of two California teenagers attracted.

Experts say there is a perception among the public and law enforcement that children kidnapped by their parents are not endangered. After all, figures from the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention show that only 4 percent of children abducted by their parents are physically harmed.

“I think there’s a perception with people that, ‘Oh, since they’re with a parent no harm will come to the child,'” said Nancy Hammer, director of the International Division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “And also since it involves two parents and family, it seems to be a messy situation. It doesn’t seem as black and white as if a child was abducted by a stranger. It’s taken a while, but progress has been made in making these abductions crimes, felonies. But they can lack the sense of urgency in the public and law enforcement reserved for other cases.”

A Very Lucky Recovery

Tracy and Robert Morse had to fight those perceptions when their children were abducted. In December 1996, three of Robert Morse’s children from a previous marriage were kidnapped by their biological, non-custodial mother when they got off the bus at school.

Abducted_Children_USA

“There’s this perception in the public and among law enforcement, that when children are abducted by their parents that they’re safe, and that just isn’t true,” said Tracy Morse, co-founder of American Parental Abductions Resource & Support Organization — APART for short. “These children are separated from everything they know and love, they are forced to live a life of a fugitive, constantly on the run, separated from their identity and their schooling interrupted and often told their left behind parents don’t care about them.

“When my husband’s children were kidnapped by his ex-wife, she pulled up at school and made a big scene at school and everything,” Morse continued. “People who saw her take the children, they just thought, ‘Oh, it’s a domestic thing. We shouldn’t interfere.'”

Tracy and Robert Morse spent more than more than two years trying to find their children and only got a break in their search when the children’s mother remarried and sparked the suspicion of her new in-laws and their relatives. One of her new husband’s relatives went on the Web site for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, saw the faces of the three children and contacted NCMEC officials. The children were recovered and reunited with the Morses in March 1999.

“The kids were a mess, in really bad shape,” said Tracy Morse. “But we were very, very lucky.”

Following their children’s recovery, the Morses founded APART to give parents a resource to both prepare themselves and their children for family abductions and give them guidance as to what to do during those situations. “Left Behind” parents spent so much time trying to figure out what to do when their children are abducted by an ex-spouse or family member, valuable time is wasted. Abductor parents easily flee amid the confusion and shock.

A Mother’s Desperate 28-Year Quest

One woman who wishes she had the Morses’ good luck and perhaps could have benefited from APART when her son was abducted is Marianne Malky.

Malky, founder of Voice for the Children, a Florida-based organization that helps locate and recover missing children, has been searching for her son David for 28 years. Malky said David, then 7 years old, was taken by his non-custodial father, Stephan Shipenberg, during a court-ordered weekend visit in 1974. Shipenberg, she said, called her and told her that she would never see David again.

Malky, who lived in New Jersey at the time, went to Shipenberg’s job at American Airlines in New York City and was told he had quit. She found out he had moved from his Manhattan apartment and ultimately tracked him and David at a new address as they drove away in a station wagon. As she pounded on the car window, that was the last time she saw her son.

Recover_Abducted_Child

Since then, Malky has had little progress in finding David, and she said she has received little help from law enforcement. She was so anxious to get her son back and track him down that she did not file a missing person’s report in New Jersey when he was first abducted. When she tried to file one year later, she was told too much time had passed.

“There isn’t any finding your kids unless you do everything yourself. You basically have to do everything,” Malky said. “No one [from law enforcement] really wants to get involved. ‘It’s too complicated,’ they say. ‘It’s a domestic problem.’ You’re told you need custody papers or you need to go to an attorney to get custodial papers, but what you need are [private] investigators. Custody papers don’t find missing children; investigators do.”

At one time, she said, she received a tip that David was attending grammar school under another last name “Kaplan” and contacted officials. However, by the time she made it to the school, administrators had contacted Shipenberg and he had retrieved David. She has learned that her son attended middle school and high school in Oyster Bay, N.Y., but she says the schools refused to give her access to his records. She also learned that he was in the Navy, but officials would not release any records because of privacy laws.

“In the United States, it’s very difficult to find them [abducted children and abductor parents] because they change their name,” Malky said. “It’s very difficult if you don’t know what their name is.”

Frustration of ‘Left Behind’ Parents

Malky said she has received tips and help from people who believe they have spotted Shipenberg and David over the years. However, she said her quest has cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars and frustrated — experiences commonly shared “left behind” parents.

“You end up broke and physically and emotionally drained,” Malky said. “But I was — am still — determined.”

And lack of resources is an obstacle for parents in family abduction cases. Not everyone has the money to hire private investigators and communication firms to print fliers for their missing children. Often, as time passes and money dwindles, parents are forced to accept that they may never see their children again.

“Unless you really keep the pressure on police, really harass them, you won’t get the updates that you want on your case, and it’ll fall on the bottom of the pile,” said Morse. “You have to turn to private investigators but not everyone has those kind of resources.”

Malky said she never saw David’s abduction coming. His father never made any previous threats, and they had civil discussions about the custody and visitation arrangements.

“I didn’t see this coming. Usually they tell you that they’re going to take your child. I was never told,” said Malky. “But I tell you, all these cases are premeditated. They know where they’re going to go, where they’re going to hide.”

• Family Abduction Safeguards and Warning Signs? Read Below

AMBER Needed for Parental Abductions

New wireless child safety tracking devices have been developed that enable parents to trace the whereabouts of their children. The lightweight devices integrate digital technology from the Department of Defense’s Global Positioning System satellites to pinpoint children’s locations, and many child advocates believe they could prevent child abductions or at least help recover kidnapped children.

Abducted_Children_Mexico

Still, more needs to be done. Experts say parental abduction victims need a program similar to the AMBER alert system, which was credited with helping law enforcement officials to rescue two California teenagers approximately 12 hours after they were abducted at gunpoint, and save an infant abducted from an Abilene, Texas, parking lot last week. Parental abductees have little, if any chance, of being considered for the AMBER alert system because the children’s lives are not considered endangered in most cases.

“The AMBER alert system is great, and they need to develop one for family abductions,” said Morse.

More may also need to be done in the courts when parents are trying to reach an agreement on visitation and custodial rights. Sometimes the early signs of a family abduction manifest during legal negotiations.

“The first instance or signs that people may abduct their children are likely seen in court,” said Hammer. “Maybe if more court officials are trained to pay more attention to certain risk factors, they can identify which child may be at risk and take action and fully inform parents what they face, what will happen if they do abduct their child.”

Child advocates also argue that there should be more severe punishment for parental child abductors — or at least they should be prosecuted to the law’s fullest extent. Stephen Fagan pleaded guilty in 1999 to kidnapping his two daughters, telling them their mother was dead and living under an assumed name for 20 years. He avoided jail time by agreeing to a deal that gave him five years’ probation, a $100,000 fine and 2,000 hours of community service.

Barry and Judith Smiley kidnapped a baby after an attempted adoption of the infant was ruled invalid, and they lived for 22 years under an assumed name, raising the boy they called Matthew Propp as their own son. They avoided trial and possibly 25 years by agreeing to plead guilty to second-degree kidnapping in June. Barry Smiley received a two-to-six-year sentence while his wife Judith was sentenced to a six-month prison term and five years’ probation.

These plea deals, child advocates argue, make would-be parental abductors believe that they would not be risking anything if they kidnapped their children.

White House Weighing In

Many left-behind parents have complained that custody orders have not been readily enforceable when they locate a missing child. Often, they have had to hire two attorneys — one for each state — if the abducting parent has traveled to another state. As the filings go through the court system, the abducting parent may flee the state again without a trace, leaving the wronged parent back where they started, not knowing the whereabouts of a missing child.

According to the Department of Justice, California is the only state that requires district attorneys to take whatever civil remedies and criminal prosecutorial measures necessary to locate and recover children abducted by family members and to enforce child custody orders. In July 1997, the National Council of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws approved the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which contains a similar mandate. As of February 2001, 21 states had enacted UCCJEA, and it had been introduced to the legislatures in 10 other states.

Some change may begin with attention from the White House. President Bush has announced the White House would hold a first-ever conference on missing, exploited and runaway children in September. Held in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention, the conference will focus on the prevention of child victimization, improving law enforcement policies for handling crimes against children, stranger abductions, and domestic and international parental kidnapping, among other topics.

‘Never an End’

Despite the time that has passed, and the fact that her son is now approaching his mid-30s, Marianne Malky is willing to do whatever it takes to find him. She said she plans to file lawsuits against the schools she suspects David has attended to force them to release his records.

If Malky finds her son, there is a possibility that he will not accept her. It happened to Barbara Kurth, the ex-wife of Stephen Fagan, when authorities tracked him down and prosecuted him for kidnapping. Even after learning that that their mother was not dead and that their father had lied to them for 20 years, Kurth’s daughters stayed by Fagan’s side. Afterwards, Fagan said he abducted the daughters because Kurth was neglecting them and abused alcohol, a claim she denied.

Still, knowing this, Malky remains determined.

“I know he has been told that I don’t care about him, that I don’t love him, but I’m not giving up,” Malky said. “Hopefully, I will win. … The feeling that I and many parents of children who have been abducted is not unlike those whose children have been killed, except that we never have an end. There’s never an end until you find your child.”

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Expert: Parental abduction never in child’s best interest


An Ontario expert familiar with parental abduction cases speaks about how children are emotionally damaged by these incidents and relates two stories of children who were found in Toronto.

Terry Smith, Program Administration for Child Find Ontario, discussed the last side effects on children who have been abducted by a parent during a phone interview. She stressed first and foremost that parental abduction is a crime. “In almost all cases a child is not abducted for the good of the child.
Those cases are extremely rare. We have systems in place for when a child is in danger from another parent. Taking the law into your own hands is never the right way to go.” Smith said that for the most part parents who may not get along still do a wonderful job of co-parenting because they put the best interest of their children above all else.
Sometimes there are issues that need to be addressed which are by use of the systems that are in place. There may be reasons that the courts limit visitations for instance that a parent wants to change. By using the court system parents can work to give their children their best. “Parents may not always like the answers but the systems are managed by people who are without an emotional stake allowing them to work for what is in the best interest of the child.
The system works. In the rare cases that it doesn’t work parents need to challenge the system. Instead of abducting a child a good parent will come up with an idea to make the system work better. By and large co-parenting even without liking the former spouse is being done wonderfully every day.” It’s when a parent oversteps those systems, taking off with their child that everything falls apart.
Abducting ones own child is a crime. Still the public, media and even some law authorities view parental abduction as a ‘soft crime’ placing the bigger fears with stranger abductions. It is not often stressed the seriousness of parental abduction. The scars left on the child in these cases are not visible so they tend to be overlooked. “When found kids can do wonderfully when they are helped.
The children need to have support though in order to thrive and realize that they are not at fault.” While most parental abductions do not end violently some do.
Changing the public’s perspective of parental abduction is needed in order for more of these children to be found more quickly. The longer a child is on the run the more emotional damage there is and the longer it takes for the child to become a ‘real kid’ again when they are found. “When one person jumps out of line is when it goes wrong. When they feel that they are above the law their kids will suffer.
Parental abduction has serious side effects on the children. Trust, identity, living a lie, everything they knew of their life is gone, having to choose one parent over another-these add up on the overall toll to the child.” When a parent makes the decision to abduct their child they tend to not be considering their child’s best interest but rather their own. Being pulled away from the world a child knows has lasting effects. Kids who have been found and reunited with their other parent have said that they felt alone and isolated, betrayed by their parents and most damaging of all felt that they were in some way responsible for their parents actions.
The Victims of Violence website states that the child victim is often depressed, has a loss of community and stability, anger, loneliness, helplessness and a fear of abandonment. Some of the children have experienced Reactive Attachment Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Overanxious Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Disruptive Behaviour Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, eating disorders, learning disorders, regression and elimination disorders, and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome as a result of their time on the run. Smith said that these children have to deal with a huge internal tug of war. While there are few cases in Canada where children taken in parental abductions have been murdered there are a few.
One case that Smith related dealt with a man who was angry at his ex and took their daughter in Toronto. He had threatened to kill both himself and the child. The man threw the girl off an overpass and then jumped. The child survived, the father did not. Regardless when a parent is abducting their child they are “not running on all cylinders” Smith said. Smith said that when children are found they can thrive. She related two stories about children who were found that live in the Greater Toronto Area. “One little boy that has been taken when he was four spent four years on the run. He had never been to school or a doctor.
Parental-Kidnapping
Today he is thriving. His father made sure that he had the help and support he needed to go on.” Smith continued, “Another girl had been found after thirteen years. When a child has been missing for such a long period of time they are really strangers to their parents and visa versa. While there were many adjustments that had to be made she is doing okay today.” There is one time that it is wise to take your child and ‘run.’ If you are in an abusive relationship going to a shelter is the safe thing to do. This is legal and in the best interest of both you and your child. This is not parental abduction.
This is a safety issue. Go through the proper legal systems. If you are in danger then get help. Go to a shelter or contact the police. If you don’t think the police will be of help then tell someone like your doctor, your child’s teacher or a school employee about your situation. Above all learn your legal rights.”

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Summer Holiday Is Parental Child Abduction Season


Child Recovery Services

Tragically International Child Abduction has reached global epidemic proportions.  According to leading experts the increase in inter-racial marriages and relationships  will, in the future, lead to a significant rise in the number of children born to parents of different nationalities 

As is true for all relationships, a statistically significant number of these marriages or partnerships will also end in divorce.       All too often, following the breakup of a marriage, one of the parents will abduct a child of that relationship against the wishes of the other parent,  frequently removing them to a country where the child has probably never lived.    – This is called “International Parental Child Abduction”.

Although there are various civil remedies available to  parents of abducted children , the challenges they face are enormous, including first and foremost, locating  the child .

Unfortunately for the majority of targeted parents, the financial burden involved in recovery and litigation falls upon their shoulders. With tens of thousands of children abducted by parents each year, the reality is that too many of these children never come home.  ABP World Group is dedicated to assisting those parents who need help in locating, rescuing, and returning  their abducted child home safely.

Our intelligence and investigative capabilities combined with our ability to dispatch personnel to most locations in the world offer a safe and strategic solution to protecting what is most important to you : your child.

Unfortunately in this present climate parental kidnapping  occurs all too frequently and we are here to help you through this extremely traumatic  period.

We are aware that parental child abduction can be difficult to resolve, but through the use of professional operatives with the skills and expertise necessary to find a resolution. we are here to help you.

ABP World Group’s successful recovery and re-unification strategy relies on the use of all the means available  including, but not limited to:

Electronic Forensic Foot printing Investigations

Intelligence Gathering

Information Specialists/Skip Tracing

Evidence Procurement

Interview/Evaluation

Surveillance Special Ops

Non-Combatant Evacuation Ops

Domestic Support

International Operations

Maritime/Land/Air transport

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(646) 502-7443 United States

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ABP World Group – Executive Protection and Anti Kidnap Services


The issues of security and threats have changed dramatically over the past years and the need for professional protection has increased.

ABP World Group provides Close Protection services, surveillance and investigation worldwide.Our personnel are discrete and professional, with international training and experience.
ABP World Group is a complete Security service.
Our experience and training gives our organization the capability to operate and assist our clients whenever and wherever they need us.

ABP world will provide you with professional security personnel that is prepared to handle any challenge that comes to our theatre of operation.

ABP World Group provides quality security services.

Most of ABP’s security operatives have extensive medical training with competence in advanced medical treatment.
Remember Knowledge Training and Experience is the key to a successful operation.

ABP World Group`s experienced security operatives will provide your project with safe logistical management, planning and operations

• Executive protection
• Close protection high or low profile
• Surveillance
• Investigation
• Security consulting
• Medical services
• Anti kidnap logistics and planning
• Abducted and missing children recovery
• Missing person investigations
• Panic room / Safe room construction
• Risk Management

Contact us for assistance. We help clients worldwide

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Parental Abduction – How bad can it be?


Leading experts believe that due to the rapid growth in multi-national marriages and relationships, the number of children born from parents of different countries will continue to expand.

Similar to all relationships, a significant portion of these marriages or partnerships will end in divorce. All too often, one of the separating parents of the child of the relationship will seek to abduct the child to a country other than where the child has lived. This is called ‘International Parental Child Abduction’, and though there are various civil remedies available to targeted parents who have had their child abducted, the challenges they face are grave, and include first and foremost, locating where the child is located.

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Parental Abduction – How To Recover a Abducted Child – ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services


Time is a very important factor if a child is missing.

Immediate access to current information about the missing child is critical. Although nobody hopes to be in such a situation where this information is needed, parents have to keep in mind that child abduction can occur anytime, anywhere, to any child. Therefore, parents must have the resources and knowledge about their children ready, so they can take action if their children become missing.

The goal of ABP World Group international child recovery services is to locate, negotiate and recover your missing child. We can dispatch personnel to most locations in the world; we specialize in locating missing children up to ages 18.

Areas of expertise: Parental abduction, Missing children, Kidnappings,
Runaway children and Counselling.

Unfortunately in this day and time parental kidnapping happens and we are here to help you trough this difficult time.
We are aware parental child abduction can be difficult to resolve, but we use professional operatives with the skills and expertise to help find a resolution.

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

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Bermuda on Congressman’s hit list over child abduction treaty


July 9, 2011 – Source: The Royal Gazette

Bermuda is among the countries that need to be punished for harbouring children kidnapped from the US, according to Congressman Chris Smith.

The Republican has named and shamed the Island as one of about 20 countries failing to abide by an international child abduction treaty.

Mr Smith, who represents New Jersey, said more than 2,400 American children were wrongly being held overseas, calling it a “deeply troubling and growing problem.”

He told the US Congress that Bermuda had carried out a “serious human rights violation” by failing to quickly return abducted children who had been unlawfully removed by one parent. The international treaty states that abducted children should be returned within six weeks for custody hearings as the courts in the country where the child was living have better access to the appropriate evidence and witnesses.

In light of this, Mr Smith is pushing to pass the International Child Abduction Prevention Act bill through Congress to secure the return of abducted children and penalise non-cooperating countries by withholding US financial aid and other assets.

Mr Smith said “the return rates of American children are still devastatingly low” even though more than 80 countries had signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

In 2010, 978 children were abducted to Hague Convention signatory countries with only 350 children or 38 percent returned.

Mr Smith, chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees international human rights, said the US would not tolerate child abduction or have patience with countries “that hide abductors behind The Hague Convention.”

The report states that: “Bermuda demonstrated patterns of noncompliance in the areas of central authority performance and judicial performance.”

It questions Bermuda’s application of the Convention when the taking party is not a parent, the challenges in bringing a Convention case to court when the Central Authority is also responsible for representing the state in court for child abuse cases and some courts’ failure to prohibit consideration of the merits of custody in domestic proceedings while a Hague application is pending.

The report details a June 2010 case when the Bermudian Central Authority wrongly said that because the taking person was an aunt and not a parent, the Convention would not apply. The family court then proceeded with a custody hearing and granted the aunt “full care, control and custody” of the child despite the pending Hague application.

The report states: “In November 2010, Bermuda appointed a new Attorney General (Michael Scott) who has expressed his commitment to ensuring that Bermuda is compliant with the Convention.

“At his urging, the court in the above case scheduled a hearing on The Hague application, but the left-behind parent (LBP) withdrew the application just days before the hearing, citing a lack of legal representation and a voluntary agreement with the taking aunt.”

The emotional federal hearing debate, which took place on May 24, included speeches from the parents of children abducted from America.

Mr Smith said international abduction was “a global human rights abuse” that harms children and inflicts emotional pain and suffering on the left-behind parents and families.

He said: “International child abduction rips children from their homes and lives, taking them to a foreign land and alienating them from a left- behind parent who loves them and who they have a right to know.

“Their childhood is disrupted, in limbo, or sometimes in hiding as the taking parent seeks to avoid the law or to conjure legal cover for their immoral actions.

“Abducted children often lose their relationship with their mom or their dad, half of their identity and half of their culture.”

Attorney General Michael Scott and Youth Affairs and Families Minister Glenn Blakeney did not respond to requests for comment.

The US State Department’s 2010 Hague Convention compliance report highlights Argentina, Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey for failing to enforce return orders.

It also states that Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Honduras, Mexico, the Bahamas and Saint Kitts are among countries failing to abide by The Hague Convention, by not ensuring swift enforcement of convention orders.

He said: “The convention creates a civil framework for the quick return of children who have been abducted and for rights of access to both parents.

“Under the convention, courts are not supposed to open or reopen custody determinations, but rather decide the child’s country of habitual residence, usually where a child was living for a year before the abduction.

“Absent extenuating circumstances, the child is to be returned within six weeks to their habitual residence, for the courts there to decide on custody or to reverse any previous custody determinations.”

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Politiet forhindret bortføring til Brasil


Kilde: Bortført.no

Snarrådighet fra politiet i Hordaland forhindret at en to år gammel jente ble bortført til Brasil. Politiet beslagla et ugyldig pass.

Den brasilianske moren har tidligere bortført barnet, men returnerte da frivillig etter tre måneder. Familien ble gjenforent i februar i år, men kort tid etter fikk faren misstanke om at kvinnen planla å bortføre datteren på ny. Jenta er norsk statsborger, og moren hadde ikke tilgang til datterens norske pass. Moren har likevel greid å skaffe til veie brasiliansk pass, trolig  utstedt av den brasilianske ambassaden.

Foreldre med barn som er i risikosonen for barnebortføring bør være oppmerksomme på at mange ambassader assisterer sine borgere med å smugle ut barn, på tross av at barna har norsk statsborgerskap.

Les hele historien her: Bortført.no

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It’s parental kidnapping season


Holiday season signals an increase in cases of child abduction

Incidents of international parental child abduction – where a child is taken overseas without the other parent’s consent or contrary to a court order – are expected to peak over the summer, according to the FCO’s Child Abduction Section.

In many cases, parents pretend they are going on holiday with their child to their country of origin and then fail to return.

Worryingly, it is also common for parents not to realise that they have committed a child abduction offence. Research recently commissioned by the FCO* showed that a third of people didn’t know that if you take your child abroad without the permission of the other parent, this may be considered abduction under UK law.

“International parental child abduction, whether intentional or not, can cause huge distress to families.

“If a parent wishes to take their child to live in a new country they will normally need either the permission of the other parent or the British courts. Cases of parental child abduction increase in the summer holiday period. We urge parents who are worried to get specialist legal advice and contact our Child Abduction Section and the charity Reunite which can provide them with information to try to prevent an abduction from happening in the first place, or to try to resolve disputes if a child has already been taken overseas.

“We also see cases where British nationals simply return to the UK with their child after their relationship breaks down whilst living abroad – this is still likely to be considered abduction. A parent will normally require the consent of the other parent and possibly permission from the courts of the country concerned. It is important that a parent obtains legal advice before taking any action.”

If you are worried that your child may be abducted overseas you should:

  • Seek advice from a  family lawyer and  request a Prohibited Steps Order (or equivalent depending on where you  live in the UK) prohibiting your child from being taken out of the UK
  • In the event of an imminent abduction (in the next 24-48 hours), contact the police who may be able to issue an All Ports Alert to try to prevent a child from leaving the UK.  The police in England and Wales do not need a court order before instituting a port alert.  Police in Scotland do need a court order.
  • Ensure that you keep their child’s passport in a safe place and contact the Identity and Passport Service (and relevant local embassy if your child has dual nationality) to request that another passport is not issued without your permission
  • Contact the Child Abduction Section at the Foreign Office on 0207 008 0878
  • Contact the Reunite International Child Abduction Centre on 0116 2556 234
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The Impact of Parental Child Abduction


An abducting parent views the child’s needs as secondary to the parental agenda which is to provoke, agitate, control, attack or psychologically torture the other parent.

It is generally accepted that children are emotionally impacted by divorce. Children of troubled abductor parents bear an even greater burden. “The needs of the troubled parent override the developmental needs of the child, with the result that the child becomes psychologically depleted and their own emotional and social progress is crippled”

 

In custody disputes and abductions, the extended support systems of the parents can become part of the dispute scenario, — leading to a type of “tribal warfare” (Johnston & Campbell, 1988). Believing primarily one side of the abduction story, — family, friends, and professionals may lose their objectivity. As a result, protective concerns expressed by the abandoned parent may be viewed as undue criticism, interference, and histrionics. Thus, the abandoned parent may be ineffectual in relieving the trauma imposed on an innocent child by the parental abduction.

Generally the abductor does not even speak of the abandoned parent and waits patiently for time to erase probing questions, like “When can we see mom (dad) again?”. “These children become hostages … it remains beyond their comprehension that a parent who really cares and loves them cannot discover their whereabouts” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 115).

Impact of Parental Child Abduction

Children who have been psychologically violated and maltreated through the act of abduction, are more likely to exhibit a variety of psychological and social handicaps. These handicaps make them vulnerable to detrimental outside influences (Rand, 1997). Huntington (1982) lists some of the deleterious effects of parental child abduction on the child victim:

  1. Depression;
  2. Loss of community;
  3. Loss of stability, security, and trust;
  4. Excessive fearfulness, even of ordinary occurrences;
  5. Loneliness;
  6. Anger;
  7. Helplessness;
  8. Disruption in identity formation; and
  9. Fear of abandonment.

Many of these untoward effects can be subsumed under the problems relevant to Reactive Attachment Disorder, the diagnostic categories in the following section, and the sections on fear, of abandonment, learned helplessness, and guilt, that follow.

Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Attachment is the deep and enduring connection established between a child and caregiver in the first few years of life. It profoundly influences every component of the human condition, — mind, body, emotions, relationships, and values. Children lacking secure attachments with caregivers often become angry, oppositional, antisocial, and may grow up to be parents who are incapable of establishing this crucial foundation with their own children (Levy & Orlans, 1999).

Children who lack permanence in their lives often develop a “one-day-at-a-time” perspective of life, which effects appropriate development of the cognitive-behavioral chain — thoughts, feelings, actions, choices, and outcomes. “They think, ‘I’ve been moved so many times, I’ll just be moved again. So why should I care?'” (ACE, 1999).

Stringer (1999) and other experts on attachment disorder concur that the highest risk occurs during the first few years of life. This disorder is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as Reactive Attachment Disorder. According to Stringer, common causes of attachment problems are:

  1. Sudden or traumatic separation from primary caretaker
    (through death, illness hospitalization of caretaker, or removal of child);
  2. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse;
  3. Neglect (of physical or emotional needs);
  4. Frequent moves and/or placements;
  5. Inconsistent or inadequate care at home or in day care
    (care must include holding, talking, nurturing, as well as meeting basic physical needs); and
  6. Chronic depression of primary caretaker.

It is evident that these causality factors would place at high risk children who are subjected to similar conditions in the circumstances of parental kidnapping.

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