Increase In Parental Child Abduction From UK


8:26am UK, Wednesday June 29, 2011

The numer of abductions of British children by parents who then take them abroad has risen by 10% in the past year – prompting a campaign to combat the problem.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the latest figures show one British child is taken every two days – a total of 161 in 2010/11.

The number taken to countries that have not signed up to an international treaty designed to ensure the return of minors who are wrongfully removed from the UK was up from 146 and 105 in the previous two years.

And it is feared the numbers may be even higher because of those that go unreported.

Countries that have not signed up to the 1980 Hague Convention are not compelled to abide by a UK court order.

The most obvious warning sign is a break down in a relationship but other signs may include a sudden interest in getting a passport or copy birth certificate for the child; a parent expressing a wish to holiday alone with the child.

FCO minister Jeremy Browne hopes the campaign will help people understand what they can do if they think their child may be at risk.

“The latest figures suggest the problem affects people from all walks of life and not just certain types of families or particular countries,” Mr Browne said.

“Finding a solution can be especially difficult if a child has been taken to a non-Hague country as there are no international systems in place to help you.

“This is why prevention is so important. The FCO will do whatever we can to provide advice and support but our role is limited, not least because we cannot interfere in the laws of another country.”

A child's bike

Evidence shows many abductions happen around school holidays when a parent refuses to return a child following a visit to the parent’s home country.

The problem has become widespread, with figures last year showing the FCO handled cases in 97 “non-Hague” countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

The message will be passed through websites Mumsnet and the Fatherhood Institute to spread the prevention message and make people aware of the support it can provide.

Sharon Cooke, from Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, said while sometimes there were no warning signs, there were things people could look for which might indicate their child was at risk.

“The most obvious warning sign is a breakdown in a relationship,” she said.

Jeremy Browne MP

FCO minister Jeremy Browne is backing the scheme

“Other signs may include a sudden interest in getting a passport or copy birth certificate for the child; a parent expressing a wish to holiday alone with the child; a change in circumstances such as leaving employment or redundancy, selling a house or giving up tenancy.

“There may also be a sudden change in contact arrangements or constant difficulty in being able to see the child.”

She added: “There’s often a perception – fuelled by a number of high profile cases – that it’s about fathers abducting their children.

“However, statistics show it is mainly mothers – either intentionally or unintentionally.

“The psychological impact on children can be traumatic and for the left-behind parent, the shock and loss are unbearable, particularly if they don’t know where their child is.”

:: Anyone worried their child might be at risk, or whose child has been abducted, can call the Child Abduction Section at the Foreign Office on 0207 008 0878.

People can also log on to the FCO’s website or contact Reunite on 0116 2556 234.

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Lesbians’ Child Custody Battle Turns Into International Manhunt


Monday, June 27, 2011
By JOHN CURRAN and FILADELFO ALEMAN, Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – Lisa Miller’s path from lesbian in committed relationship to international fugitive started in 2003.

She broke up with her partner, Janet Jenkins, renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian before disappearing in 2009 with the daughter she had with Jenkins.

Now, what started as a custody battle over little Isabella Miller-Jenkins has turned into a global manhunt, with indications that Mennonite pastors and other faith-based supporters may have helped hide the two in Nicaragua and are now coming to the aid of one who the FBI says helped Miller.

Eager to keep the girl away from Jenkins and what they consider a dangerous and immoral lifestyle, they liken their roles to that of underground helpers aiding runaway slaves.

“God’s Holy Law never recognizes a gay marriage,” said Pablo Yoder, a Mennonite pastor in Nicaragua, in an email message to The Associated Press. “Thus, the Nicaraguan Brotherhood felt it right and good to help Lisa not only free herself from the so called civil marriage and lesbian lifestyle, but especially to protect her nine year old daughter from being abducted and handed over to an active lesbian and a whole-hearted activist.”

As the gay marriage movement gains momentum in the U.S. with impending legal recognition of the relationships in New York state, the case is a reminder of the obstacles and opposition that same-sex couples and their families can face.

The saga began in 2000, when Miller and Jenkins were joined in a civil union in Vermont. Two years later, Miller gave birth to the girl, through artificial insemination. The couple split in 2003, with Miller renouncing her homosexuality and becoming a Baptist, then a Mennonite.

Miller was originally granted custody of the girl, but her defiance of visitation schedules led courts in Vermont and Virginia to rule in favor of Jenkins, culminating in a judge’s 2009 decision to award custody to Jenkins.

After Miller and the girl failed to show for a court-ordered custody swap on Jan. 1, 2010, to hand the girl over to Jenkins, the hunt was on. A federal arrest warrant was issued for Miller, and her daughter’s name was added to the missing by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

But they were long gone: In 2009, two months before the judge ordered the custody change, Miller and the girl flew to Central America and took up residence for an unknown amount of time in Nicaragua before vanishing again.

So says the FBI, which revealed in April that it had arrested Nicaraguan missionary Timothy David “Timo” Miller and charged him with abetting an international kidnapping by helping arrange travel and lodging for the two. He is awaiting trial.

According to the FBI, Timo Miller — no relation to Lisa Miller — arranged to fly Miller and her daughter from Canada to Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua.

He’d never met her until they arrived at the airport, according to Loyal Martin, a friend of Timo Miller’s.

Timo Miller has pleaded not guilty and is free on $25,000 bail, awaiting trial. His attorney, federal public defender Steven Barth, won’t discuss the case. Another lawyer for Timo Miller, Jeffrey Conrad, of Lancaster, Pa., didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“Tim believes there is a higher law than the laws of any country that all people, including himself, are accountable to,” said Martin, 40, of Philadelphia, N.Y., who attended Miller’s first court appearance.

In an April 1 affidavit outlining the charge against Timo Miller, FBI agent Dana Kaegel noted the involvement of various religious groups and people involved — in some fashion — with Miller.

At a minimum, she appears to have had the support in the Mennonite community outside the capital of Managua.

Yoder, who works the remote village of Waslala, 161 miles from Managua, told The Associated Press she celebrated her daughter’s birthday in his house last year. He wouldn’t say more.

“She came here to have a good time, and we allowed her to celebrate her daughter’s birthday in my house because of the love we have for the girl,” Pablo Yoder said.

Yoder, who is mentioned in the FBI’s affidavit over an email exchange with Timo Miller planning the party, told the AP in an interview he couldn’t remember how long she stayed. She slept at the house of another pastor, according to Yoder, who would not name that person for fear it would lead to questioning by police.

Members of the church made a pact not to reveal any details to protect Timothy David Miller.

“We want to remain silent because we do not know whether it would cause him problems,” Yoder said. “The moment may arrive when we are going to want to talk, when we deem it necessary to tell Nicaragua the true story.”

Nicaraguan police haven’t questioned Yoder and other members of his church, he said in an interview last month.

“They know we are not involved in this matter,” said Yoder, who likens the help given to Lisa Miller to aid given by Mennonites and Quakers to the aid abolitionists gave runaway slaves.

Richard Huber, of Myerstown, Pa., a friend of Timo Miller’s who agreed to assume custody of him after his first court appearance, sees Timo Miller’s actions as faith-based.

“Choosing to heed God’s law over man’s would be an accurate way of putting it,” he said in an email message.

Miller may have gotten help from others drawn to her predicament for religious reasons.

The lawyer for Miller’s ex-partner, Janet Jenkins, told the FBI she got a call in June 2010 from someone — she won’t say who — who told her that Lisa Miller and the girl had stayed in a beach house in coastal San Juan del Sur, about 68 miles south of Managua.

The house is owned by Philip Zodhiates, the father of Liberty University law school administrative assistant Victoria Hyden, according to the FBI. Jenkins’ attorney, Sarah Star, told the FBI that the caller told her Zodhiates had asked his daughter to put out a request for supplies for Lisa Miller.

Located in Lynchburg, Va., Liberty University was founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. An affiliate of the university, conservative Christian law firm Liberty Counsel, formerly represented Miller in her court case in Vermont over custody of the girl.

Law school dean Mathew Staver — who leads Liberty Counsel — has said Zodhiates isn’t affiliated with either.

“From our perspective, she just dropped off the face of the Earth. We haven’t heard from her or from anyone who said they’ve heard from her,” Staver said of Lisa Miller.

Miller, 42, is wanted by the FBI and Interpol, which recently requested the help of Nicaraguan police in the search. U.S. Embassy officials in Nicaragua said they don’t know where she is.

“We have clues, but we do not want to reveal them so as not to hinder our investigation,” Fernando Borge, spokesman for the Nicaraguan national police, told the AP last month. “We can’t say either, at the moment, whether she is or is not in the country.”

A security guard at the hotel Royal Chateau in San Juan del Sur, Juan Garcia, told the AP last month he remembered seeing Miller and her daughter seated along the waterfront.

Back in Vermont, Jenkins waits for word on their whereabouts, a break in the case — or both.

“It is hard to understand how anyone could consider a childhood on the run better and more stable than one surrounded by family, with two parents and two sets of grandparents who can provide love and support,” Jenkins, who declined to be interviewed for this story, said in an email.

Timo Miller, meanwhile, awaits trial on the abetting count, which could send him to prison for three years. For now, he and his wife and their four children are staying in Pennsylvania, with Huber.

Supporters have rallied to Timo Miller’s his side. At his April 25 court appearance in federal court in Burlington, Vt., dozens of supporters turned out.

More than $30,000 has been raised for his legal defense fund, and donors have provided he and his family with a minivan and an apartment, according to http://www.timomiller.org, the Timothy Miller Family Support Network’s website.

“When Isabella was about 18 months old, Lisa Miller realized the emptiness of her lesbian lifestyle, and her mother’s instinct alerted her to the danger that lifestyle posed for her young daughter. She chose to leave that lifestyle, repented of her immoral ways, and began a new life,” according to the website.

Star calls Miller’s actions kidnapping. She doesn’t buy the idea of civil disobedience.

“My understanding is that civil disobedience is an act of defiance against a government. Janet Jenkins is not the government, she is a mother who is worried sick about her daughter.”

——

Associated Press correspondent Filadelfo Aleman reported from Nicaragua.

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Parental Kidnapping – What to Do When the Other Parent Will Not Return the Child


I hope you never need this article. Very rarely does it happen, but there are times that one parent goes off the deep end and decides that the Orders of the Court are not meant for them.

Children are taken out of school, hidden at relatives’ homes, and secreted from the “custodial” parent. (In this context custodial means the parent who should have that child during that time frame or the parent with the majority contact time.)

The first step is to make sure that the current Order is clear and specific enough to be enforceable. Whether law enforcement will assist when one parent violates a court ordered contact schedule has a lot to do with how clearly written it is. Even with the most clearly written order there are times that law enforcement will not want to get involved. This is when the Court needs to be contacted. Emergency Motions are some of the most overused motions around.

Judges hate them because 1) everyone wants to call every bad situation an emergency and domestic cases are nothing but bad situations and 2) because they are being asked to make decisions without letting the other side tell their story. If there is a remedy for the violation (if that parent should not have had this two weeks of summer, but the judge could take other time away from the offender without harm to the child) short of asking the Judge to take the child via police, that is the road to go down. Judges can punish violations with Orders for attorneys fees, extra time for the other parent, moving to supervised or having other parameters or limitations…without having to traumatize a child with a ride in a police car.

If there is no remedy that will truly keep the child safe, in the event of escalating obvious mental health issues and increasingly bold violations..the Court can enter a Pick Up Order. This court order will describe the child and the parent who has them wrongfully, and it will authorize the police to pick the child up. The Order should be drafted to include all the places the child could reasonably be, with the most obvious listed first.

The Order may indicate that law enforcement is authorized to enter a home in order to find the child, and that they can do this at any hour. Without this provision, most law enforcement agencies are going to “stake out” a home only. If the person has taken the child to other locations, it may be necessary to hire a PI to attempt to find them and then call in law enforcement to pick up the child..many police agencies are just too overworked to spend days or even hours trying to hunt up parents who have stolen their children.

Ultimately, there are remedies in these situations, but the process can take a while and can be scary in the meantime. It is important to understand that long term, the parents who follow court orders, who show respect to the Judge’s determinations and work within the system will long term get much better results. Once a parent pushes things to the point of requiring this type of action, they have usually lost the Judge’s trust and are working against themselves.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3651962

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Abducted to The Philippines – Parental Child Abduction


The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
Hundreds of American parents face a similar plight, fighting from within the United States to bring home children they say were kidnapped and taken abroad by the other parent. The U.S. State Department is handling roughly 1,000 international parental kidnapping cases, including seven that involve children taken to the Philippines.

Many parents left behind face linguistic, cultural, geographical and legal barriers. Often, the spouse is a citizen, or can become a citizen, of the country to which he or she has fled and is entitled to that country’s protection.

The Philippines sees parental kidnapping as a custody dispute, not a crime. And the country isn’t party to the international treaty that created a process for resolving such disputes.

The Philippine government says it cooperates with U.S. law enforcement and consular officials to locate children alleged to have been abducted and check on their welfare. The officials also can help negotiate a return. But in many cases, the decision on whether the children should be sent back to the parent in the United States falls to the courts.


You should contact your local police station if your child has been taken overseas without your consent or if you fear your child will be abducted

There are 3 broad categories of child abduction:

  • Abduction – where a child is taken overseas without the other parent’s consent – this may be a criminal offense.
  • Wrongful retention – where a child has been retained in a foreign country following an overseas trip
  • Threat of abduction – where there is a risk that a child will be taken overseas
Note:
The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the Philippines and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, there is no treaty remedy by which the left behind parent would be able to pursue recovery of the child/ren should they be abducted to or wrongfully retained in the Philippines. Once in the Philippines, the child/ren would be completely subject to Philippine law for all matters including custody.
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Plan to sign Hague Convention welcome but children’s best interests should come first


Source: The Mainichi Daily News
Japan’s new policy of signing the Hague Convention that stipulates the treatment of children from failed international marriages in custody disputes has been approved by Cabinet ministers, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan planning to announce the decision at a G8 Summit set to take place in France on May 26 and 27.

Officially called the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or the Hague Abduction Convention, the treaty went into effect in 1983, and counts 84 countries, primarily in the West, as its signatories.

According to the Hague Convention, if a child is removed from their country of habitual residence and a parent petitions for the child’s return to that country, the government of the country to where the child has been taken has the responsibility of cooperating with the child’s return and in negotiations for talks between the respective parents’ parties.

Japan has been facing increasing pressure from Western nations to sign the treaty because of a significant number of cases in which Japanese mothers removed their children from other countries and returned to Japan. The Japanese Foreign Ministry has set up opportunities for periodic consultation with parties from both the U.S. and France — citizens of which Japan nationals have shown to have a great number of custody disputes — and have consulted on a total of 130 individual cross-border custody cases.

In some cases, bringing a child back to Japan without consent from the other parent has resulted in parents facing charges of abduction. That many such parents claim to be victims of domestic violence complicates these cases even further, and such allegations of abuse make the argument that joining the convention raises concerns for the protection of Japanese citizens and goes against the child’s interests understandable.

Meanwhile, Japanese partners whose children have been removed from Japan have pushed for Japan to sign the treaty, with hopes that it would help resolve their own custody disputes.

The Hague Convention includes special exemptions, including one that states that a child does not have to be returned to their country of habitual residence in cases where doing so would pose a great risk of physical or emotional pain for them. This exemption is key.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, of the approximately 800 cases of child custody suits around the world in which a parent is seeking the child’s return, the abovementioned exemption has been permitted in 30 percent of cases — ruling that the children did not have to be returned.

These special cases include those in which there remain the chances of a mother becoming a victim of domestic violence if she and her child were to return to their country of habitual residence; or if the child were to return on their own but would suffer if separated from the mother; or in cases in which the child cannot be expected to receive sufficient care upon return. From these cases, it is apparent that courts of various countries around the world are taking a relatively flexible approach to the convention.

Signing the convention and searching for solutions based on internationally-recognized rules is an unavoidable path for Japan. Yet, we must protect our citizens based on the actual nature of each case in a way that adheres with the treaty.

Whether or not a child brought to Japan should be returned to their previous country of residence will be decided by Japanese courts based on the law. The government is set to add a provision to its Hague-Convention bill indicating that in cases that involve allegations of child abuse or of domestic violence by one partner against another, the child can be stopped from being returned to their country of habitual residence.

One of the major factors at the base of cross-border custody disputes is the difference in how custody is perceived. Joint custody is common in many of the convention’s signatory nations, with children often going back and forth between their divorced parents. In Japan, however, sole custody is more common, and is often granted to the mother.

As the number of international marriages continues to rise, we must think about what really constitutes our children’s best interests.

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We Recover Internationally Abducted Children


We can bring your child back !

International Child Abduction is tragically a global epidemic.

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.

Unfortunately for the majority of targeted parents, the financial burden for recovery and litigation falls on their shoulders. With tens of thousands of children parentally abducted each year, the reality is too many of these children never come home. ABP World Group is dedicated to assisting parents in need of assistance in locating, rescuing, and safely bringing home your abducted child.

Our intelligence and investigation abilities combined with our ability to dispatch personnel to most locations in the world offer a safe and strategic solution to protecting your most important asset: your child.

Areas of expertise:

Parental abduction.

Missing children.

Kidnappings.

Runaway children.

Reunification Counseling.

Unfortunately in this day and time parental kidnapping happens and we are here to help you trough this difficult period. 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 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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CHILD ABDUCTION PREVENTION


CHILD ABDUCTION PREVENTION

The following information is excerpted from The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

In light of the high profile abductions of several children, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) encourages families not to panic. Instead, parents need to empower themselves with information that can help protect their children.

CHILD ABDUCTION: STATISTICS

  • Parental abductions and runaway cases make up the majority of missing children in the United States. In 2002 there were about 797,500 children reported missing, or nearly 2,185 per day. The vast majority of these cases were recovered quickly; however, the parent or guardian was concerned enough to contact law enforcement and they placed the child into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center – a computerized national database of criminal justice information. It is available to Federal, state and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies.
  • Each year there are about 3,000 to 5,000 non-family abductions reported to police, most of which are short term sexually-motivated cases. About 200 to 300 of these cases, or 6 percent, make up the most serious cases where the child was murdered, ransomed or taken with the intent to keep.
  • The NCMEC analyzed more than 4200 attempted abductions from February 2005 to March 2010 and found that 38% of attempted abductions occur while a child is walking alone to or from school, riding the school bus or riding a bicycle; 37% of attempted abductions occur between the hours of 2:00pm through 7:00pm on a weekday; 43% of attempted abductions involve children between the ages of 10 and 14; 72% of attempted abduction victims are female; 68% of attempted abductions involve the suspect driving a vehicle.
  • Research shows that of the 58,000 non-family abductions each year 63% involved a friend, long-term acquaintance, neighbor, caretaker, baby sitter or person of authority; only 37% involved a stranger.

SAFETY TIPS FOR PARENTS:

  • Be sure to go over the rules with your children about whose homes they can visit when you’re not there and discuss the boundaries of where they can and can’t go in the neighborhood.
  • Always listen to your children and keep the lines of communication open. Teach your children to get out of dangerous or uncomfortable situations right away, and practice role-playing and basic safety skills with them.
  • Teach your children in whose car they may ride. Children should be cautioned never to approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless accompanied by a parent or trusted adult.
  • Make sure children know their names, address, telephone numbers and how to use the telephone.
  • Choose babysitters with care. Obtain references from family, friends and neighbors.

SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN:

  • Always check first with your parents or the person in charge before you go anywhere or do anything.
  • Always take a friend when you play or go somewhere.
  • Don’t be tricked by adults who offer you special treats or gifts or ask you for help.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no and get away from any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or confused. Trust your feelings.
  • Don’t get into a car or go near a car with someone in it unless you are with your parents or a trusted adult.
  • Never take a ride from someone without checking first with your parents.
  • Never go into a public restroom by yourself.
  • Never go alone to the mall, movies, video arcades or parks.
  • Stay safe when you’re home alone by keeping the door locked. Do not open the door for or talk to anyone who stops by unless the person is a trusted family friend or relative.

INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL ABDUCTION

In situations where parents have not resolved the issue of child custody, and one of the parents has ties to another country, there is the risk that that parent might take the child with them to a foreign country. Parents who are in this situation can find useful information about international parental abduction in “A Family Resource Guide on International Parental Kidnapping” published by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

For emergency assistance contact:

ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

The goal of ABP World Group Ltd. 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.

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Parental Child Abduction and Abducted Children Recovery


Christmas holidays – A time for parental child abductions

The holiday season sees a sharp rise in the number of parental abductions in Australia.  With emotions running high between separated and divorced parents during the Christmas/New Year period, a small number of parents will take the drastic step of abducting their own children.  Most of these children are eventually recovered, but a small number of parents will experience the agony of never seeing their children again. Read more below.

The number of British children abducted by one of their parents and taken abroad is set to double as the holidays start, the Foreign Office has warned.

Read more here: The Telegraph

Airlines Sued for Their Role in Parental Child Abduction

Read more here:Lawdiva’s Blog

Steps You can Take To Prevent Parental Child Abduction

Read the article here: ABP World Group Ltd`s Blog

Parental Child Abduction – Lesson 1

Parental Child Abduction – Lesson 2

For Help and assistance: ABP World Group international recovery services

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International child abductions tear families apart


By: Katie Worth

Dusk had long since fallen over the jungles of northwestern Honduras, but Lt. Carlos Sanchez could still make out the three children playing in the dirty yard of the bare hut his team had surrounded.

Those children, ages 3, 6 and 8, were his quarry. Sanchez, an investigator from the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, had been searching for them for the better part of a year. The children had been abducted from San Francisco by their father in June 2008, and he had carefully hidden them. It took an exhaustive investigation to follow their trail here. Though his team was close, Sanchez knew they had to be careful because smuggling and other crime made this border village dangerous.

The children were victims of what the U.S. Department of State believes is a growing phenomenon: international child abduction. According to State Department statistics, there are about 3,000 children currently missing who have been abducted by a parent and ensconced out of the U.S. At least 400 of those missing children are from California — about 50 from the Bay Area.

The issue of international child abduction briefly received widespread attention last Christmas when a New Jersey father successfully retrieved his 9-year-old son from Brazil, where his mother had taken him for a visit and never returned. After her death, the boy’s stepfather refused to return him to the U.S. until courts forced him to.

The international press treated the Brazil case as an anomaly. In fact, the number of open international kidnapping cases have doubled in about a decade: In 1998, there were about 1,000 open cases, according to nonprofit Committee for Missing Children. Today, there are about 2,000 open cases, State Department spokesman Ryan Palsrok said.

In part because of the sharp increase, State Department officials visited San Francisco last month and met with many of the families awaiting their children’s return, Palsrok said.

Rising numbers are tied to the increasing ease and affordability of international travel. The poor economy may also encourage more kidnappings, with unemployed parents deciding to return to their home countries, Palsrok said.

The abductions are complicated, because both parents often feel they are right in their actions. Because the abductions are international, multiple countries’ legal systems are often involved, as well as an international body empowered by a 1980 Hague Conference treaty.

According to the treaty, an abducted child must be returned to his or her “country of habitual residence,” whose courts will determine the best outcome for the child.

In the Honduran case Sanchez was working last spring, the children’s mother had sole custody of her children, but the father had visiting rights. On June 13, 2008, the father picked up the children for a scheduled visit and told them he was taking them to Disneyland. When the mother did not hear from them, she tried and failed to contact the father. She found his apartment empty. She suspected he would take the children to Honduras, where he had family.

The City’s District Attorney’s Office became involved because in California, the State Department asks those offices to take a lead in finding internationally abducted children.

The mother was beside herself with anxiety. In a court document a year later, she wrote that her sole comfort was their scent still stuck on their clothes, which she sniffed every day, “until they smelled no more.”

Investigators learned the father drove to Texas in a rented car, put the children in the back of a truck and drove them through Mexico and into Honduras. He stayed with them for several weeks, but eventually left them with his family in a village outside the city of San Pedro Sula.

When the investigation pinpointed them, Sanchez and a recovery team flew down. After securing the perimeter with local police, Sanchez and his team approached the hut and talked to the children’s grandmother. He explained the children were going to come with him and be returned to their mother.

The children had been sleeping on old mattresses, had been bitten by bats and mosquitoes and were infected with lice. They did not want to leave, in part because they had been told that their mother didn’t want them anymore, and that their father would go to jail if they ever left with authorities.

The District Attorney’s Office requested the family not be identified.

“It’s always really dramatic for children, because they’re usually being ripped from someone they love,” Sanchez said. “We told them they were leaving and they were crying.”

But a day later in the U.S., comforted, debriefed and prepared for the reunification, they rushed into their mother’s arms.

“It was like day and night,” he said. “It’s great to see a reunification. Unless you’re dead, you can’t go without crying.”

Mexico abduction yields happy ending

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office sees about two child custody cases a month, but in most of them, both parents are within the county, and one of them is keeping the child a little longer than they should.

Sometimes, however, Inspector Ivan Grosshauser responds to cases where a child has been taken out of the country without the permission of the other parent or the courts.

In one case, he recalled, a couple with a 4-year-old son split up, and the father, “kind of a control guy,” asked for sole custody. When San Mateo County’s family court granted dual custody, the father took the child to Mexico.

The mother was reluctant to approach law enforcement because she was not a U.S. citizen, but finally did so when the father told her he would not allow her to speak to her son unless she sent him money. The situation deteriorated quickly, Grosshauser said.

“At some point he threatened the mother that if she came to get the child, he would kill the child,” he said.

A break came when the father left the child briefly with the mother’s relatives, and they contacted her. Grosshauser flew to Mexico City. The family turned over the child, who was excited to return to his mother.

“It was a very long day — we flew back from Mexico City to Tijuana so I could walk him over the border, and then got on another flight in San Diego,” he said.

“But after that long day, at 10:30 at night, I pulled up to the meeting place, and the mother was there, and I opened the car door and the little boy steps out, and there was that absolute spontaneous yelp of a mother who never thought she’d see her kid again,” Grosshauser said. “It was very, very satisfying for me.”

Guarding against international parental child kidnapping

– A well-written custody decree: This can be an important line of defense against international parental child abductions. The decree can include a statement that explicitly prohibits your child from traveling abroad without your permission or that of the court. If the other parent has significant ties to a foreign country, the court can require that parent to post a bond that would be forfeited if they leave with the child.

– Passport Issuance Alert Program: You may ask that the State Department alert you if an application for a U.S. passport for the child is received. Because it is much easier to travel out of the country with a child if the child has a passport, preventing one from being issued can deter international travel.

– Quickly alert the State Department: If the child is in the process of being abducted but is not yet abroad, contact the department’s Office of Children’s Issues. The office can work with law enforcement in the U.S. and in other countries to try to stop the departure of children being abducted from the U.S.

The Office of Children’s Issues can be reached at (202) 736-9090 during working hours, and (888) 407-4747 evenings, holidays and weekends. For additional details on missing children, visit www.missingkids.com. If you have information on a missing child, call (800) 843-5678

Source: U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues

Unresolved cases

2,000: Open cases of international parental abductions known by the U.S. Department of State

3,000: Children involved in these cases

400: Children taken from California

50: Children taken from the Bay Area

50: Percent increase in cases reported to the State Department in the last two years

62: Countries on six continents where children from California have been taken

Source: U.S. Department of State

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/international-child-abductions-tear-families-apart#ixzz18UrRDW1r

For emergency assistance contact:

ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

The goal of ABP World Group Ltd. 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.

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Parental Child Abduction is Child Abuse


by Nancy Faulkner, Ph.D 

Introduction
Risk Factors
Impact of Parental Child Abduction

What has been reported about abducted children?
Conclusion from Clawar & Rivlin


Introduction
“Because of the harmful effects on children, parental kidnapping has been characterized as a form of child abuse” reports Patricia Hoff, Legal Director for the Parental Abduction Training and Dissemination Project, American Bar Association on Children and the Law. Hoff explains: 

“Abducted children suffer emotionally and sometimes physically at the hands of abductor-parents. Many children are told the other parent is dead or no longer loves them. Uprooted from family and friends, abducted children often are given new names by their abductor-parents and instructed not to reveal their real names or where they lived before.” (Hoff, 1997)

As an early leader in the relatively new field of parental child abduction issues, Dr. Dorothy Huntington wrote an article published in 1982, Parental Kidnapping: A New Form of Child Abuse. Huntington contends that from the point of view of the child, “child stealing is child abuse.” According to Huntington, “in child stealing the children are used as both objects and weapons in the struggle between the parents which leads to the brutalization of the children psychologically, specifically destroying their sense of trust in the world around them.” Because of the events surrounding parental child abduction, Huntington emphasizes that “we must reconceptualize child stealing as child abuse of the most flagrant sort” (Huntington, 1982, p. 7).

There is an unfortunate and evident paucity of literature on parental child abduction. Just during the past two decades, Huntington (1982), Greif and Hegar (1993), and others have begun addressing concerns for children kidnapped by their parent abductors. With growing concerns for abducted children, some experts have coined terms like “Parental Alienation” to describe the potential negative impact on child victims. Regardless of the specific terms designed to illustrate the effects of parental child abduction, there is general consensus that the children are the resultant casualties.

Risk Factors
Post-divorce parental child stealing has been on the increase since the mid-1970s, paralleling the rising divorce rate and the escalating litigation over child custody (Huntington, 1986). According to Hoff (1997), “The term ‘parental kidnapping’ encompasses the taking, retention or concealment of a child by a parent, other family member, or their agent, in derogation of the custody rights, including visitation rights, of another parent or family member.” 

The abductor parent may move from one state to another, beginning a new round of investigation into the abuse with each move, impeding intervention by child protective services (Jones, Lund & Sullivan, 1996). Or, the abductor may flee to another country, completely shutting down any hopes of involvement by child protective services in the country of origin. The most pervasive scenario is that the abducting parent goes into hiding, or moves beyond the jurisdiction of governing law.

“These kidnappings are very cleverly plotted and planned and often involve the assistance of family members. The target parent has no forwarding address or telephone numbers.” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 115)

Huntington and others believe that inherent in the act of kidnapping and concealment are negative consequences for the child victims. It is Huntington’s contention that one of the most concerning factors is that the parent has fled and “is out of reach of law and child protection agencies.” To escape discovery the abductor parent is hiding out, — “so who knows what is happening with child!” (Huntington, 1982).

The abducted child is without the safeguards normally provided by child law. This leaves the child completely vulnerable to the dictates of the abductor parent, who, as evidenced in the following research by Johnson and Girdner, may not have the child’s best interests in mind, or may be functioning with severe impediments.

A study entitled Prevention of Parent or Family Abduction through Early Identification of Risk Factors was conducted by Dr. Janet Johnston (Judith Wallerstein Center for the Family in Transition) and Dr. Linda Girdner (ABA Center on Children and the Law). The researchers detailed six risk parent profiles for abduction:

1. Have threatened to abduct or abducted previously;
2. Are suspicious and distrustful due to a belief abuse has occurred;
3. Are paranoid-delusional;
4. Are sociopathic;
5. Have strong ties to another country; and
6. Feel disenfranchised from the legal system.

These findings by Johnston and Girdner pose a bleak prognosis for children held at the hands of such inept parents.

According to Rand, 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 should come as no surprise, then, that post-divorce parental abduction is considered a serious form of child abuse” (Rand, 1997).

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” (Rand, 1997). Since the problem of parental child abduction is known to occur in divided parents rather than in united and intact families, the inordinate emotional burdens compound abduction trauma. Rand reports that although Wallerstein is familiar with Parental Alienation Syndrome, Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) prefer the term “overburdened child” to describe this problem.

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.

Attachment is the reciprocal process of emotional connection. This fundamental and necessary developmental process influences a child’s physical, cognitive, and psychological development. It becomes the basis for development of basic trust or mistrust, and shapes how the child will relate to the world, how the child will learn, and how the child will form relationships throughout life. “If this process is disrupted, the child may not develop the secure base necessary to support all future healthy development” (Stringer, 1999).

Stringer (1999), Van Bloem (1999), The Attachment Center (ACE, 1999), and criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV, 1994) identify a significant and troubling list of behaviors associated with problematic attachment:

1. Unable to engage in satisfying reciprocal relationships;
2. Superficially engaging, charming (not genuine);
3. Lack of eye contact;
4. Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers;
5. Lack of ability to give and receive affection on parents’ terms (not cuddly);
6. Inappropriately demanding and clingy;
7. Poor peer relationships;
8. Low self esteem;
9. Affectionate with strangers or attempts to leave with strangers;
10. Refuses, resists, or is uncomfortable with affection on parental terms;
11. Incessant chatter or nonsense questions;
12. Hyperactive, over-active, or attention deficit;
13. Poor, underdeveloped, or no conscience;
14. Hoarding, gorging, eating abnormalities, or hiding food;
15. Intense control battles;
16. Significant learning problems or lags;
17. Fire setting, fire play, or fascination with fire;
18. Daily lying or lying in the face of the obvious;
19. Fascination with weapons, blood, or gore;
20. Destructive to self or others; and
21. Cruelty to animals, siblings, or others.

This unsettling list of disturbances and other constellations of behaviors exhibited by abducted children comprises criteria from various childhood disorder categories of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that might lead one to rule out the following diagnoses:

1. Reactive Attachment Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood;
2. Separation Anxiety Disorder;
3. Overanxious Disorder of Childhood;
4. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder;
5. Conduct Disorder;
6. Disruptive Behavior Disorder;
7. Oppositional Defiant Disorder;
8. Eating Disorders;
9. Learning Disorder NOS;
10. Regression and Elimination Disorders: Encopresis and Enuresis; and
11. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

As a relatively new diagnosis to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), also known as Attachment Disorder (AD), is often misunderstood, and relatively unknown (ACE, 1999). Although the official DSM-IV diagnosis may be overlooked by some professionals, the phenomenon of attachment disorder was observed 50 years ago by Rene Spitz in the well known monkey studies. Spitz reported that infant monkeys may actually die if they are not played with, talked to, held, stroked, and tended. Some species of young monkeys die when abandoned. Even a brief separation of infant monkeys from their mothers is seen two years later, causing the infants to be more timid, clingy, and relate poorly to others.

Humans are social animals. If abandoned as an infant or young child, we may first protest by screaming, then quietly withdraw; finally, we become detached and apathetic. Abandoned, we may joylessly play some with others, but there is no emotional involvement (Tucker-Ladd, 1960).

The DSM-IV (1994) defines Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts, beginning before age five. According to Van Bloem (1999), inexperienced professionals often misdiagnose Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Depression, Autism, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Other experts in RAD estimate that this disorder has been misdiagnosed as Bi-Polar Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder in 40 to 70 percent of the cases (ACE, 1999).

Bloem (1999) suggests that Reactive Attachment Disorder is often accompanied by other diagnosis listed above, but that Attachment Disorder most often needs to be the primary diagnosis and the focus of early intervention. Some professionals may mildly disagree with Bloem’s preferred diagnostic perspective; however, most would agree that the resultant trauma to a child, — who in a moment was stolen away from his or her entire world of familiarity, — is emotionally, developmentally, and psychologically devastating.

Van Bloem (1999) reports that for a child “it is not possible to develop true self-esteem and find peace without resolving differences and emotional pain due to stressed or damaged emotional ties to parents and family.” According to Van Bloem, attachment helps the child to:

1. Attain full intellectual potential;
2. Sort out perceptions;
3. Think logically;
4. Develop a conscience;
5. Become self-reliant;
6. Cope with stress and frustration;
7. Handle fear and worry;
8. Develop future relationships; and
9. Reduce jealousy (Van Bloem, 1999).

The words “attachment” and “bonding” are used interchangeably. These bonding impaired individuals typically fail to develop a conscience and do not learn how to trust. With Attachment Disorder, individuals have difficulty forming intimate lasting relationships (ACE, 1999). Children with attachment disturbance often project an image of self-sufficiency and charm, while masking inner feelings of insecurity and self hate. Unfortunately, such children do not respond well to traditional parenting or therapy, since both rely on the child’s ability to form relationships (Stringer, 1999).

Adult survivors of abuse may experience long term or chronic lifetime symptoms resulting from childhood trauma. For example, a person who has been physically abused might suffer from depression or anxiety. A victim of childhood sexual abuse might exhibit symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress, or other disorders as evidenced in the DSM-IV criteria of adult mental health disorders, such as:

1. Agoraphobia
2. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
3. Dissociative Identity Disorder
4. Dysthymic Disorder
5. Substance Abuse or Dependency
6. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
7. Major Depressive Disorder
8. Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder
9. Borderline Personality Disorder

All too often, children suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder go untreated and become adults without conscience (Antisocial Personality Disorder) and without concern for anyone but themselves. “Parental dreams are lost, and they grow up uncaring and without social conscience” (ACE, 1999).

Learned Helplessness. 

The concept of learned helplessness is based on the highly respected work of Seligman in 1975, when he observed this helpless condition among animals that were unable to alter their environment. Seligman subjected dogs to random shocks at variable intervals that were completely unrelated to their volitional behaviors. Nothing the dogs could do would protect them from being shocked. Under this experimental treatment, the dogs became passive and refused to leave their cages, even though the cage doors were eventually left open as the shock treatments continued.

“The key to the learned helplessness model is punishment that is totally unrelated to the victim’s behavior, that is, the victim does not have to do anything wrong to be punished” (Lalli, 1997). As a consequence, the victim places him or herself under a virtual house arrest without informed judgment that includes facts of the situation. In the situation of parental abduction, the child victim often does not know why he or she has been abducted, has no control over the situation, and even though there may be very strong feelings of anger, frustration and confusion, — the totality of helplessness may result in a yielding to the circumstances. This yielding and superficial appearance of resolution to the circumstance may be the result of complete devastation, lack of control, and total helplessness, — rather than acceptance.

Fear and Phobias. 

Most phobias are groundless and excessive, such as fears of crowds, small spaces, addressing large groups, and heights. These fears of harmless situations may be associated with fantasies of horrible consequences, like the fear of public speaking. Thus, frightening and irrational thoughts of what might happen become paired with the real situation, which in turn produces a fear reaction. For example, at night a child has fantasies of demons lurking under the bed and in the closet. The stronger the fantasies, the worse the fear when the lights are turned off. Soon, the fears will occur prior to bedtime, from anticipation of being in the dark.

“Likewise, most of us have at least a mild fear of the dark. Relatively few people have been attacked in the dark, no one by ghosts or monsters. Yet, at age 3 or 4 (as soon as our imagination develops enough) we begin fantasizing scary creatures lurking in the dark. Our own fantasies create our fear of the dark.” (Tucker-Ladd, 1960)

Children who are abducted have been stripped of almost everything familiar – toys, personal possessions, playmates, relatives, teachers, the neighborhood, playgrounds, favorite shopping and eating places, — daily routine — and a parent. Suddenly snatched from all that is familiar and deposited without adequate preparation into a completely new environment, — fear of the unknown, future events, emotional safety, and physical safety can run rampant and become irrational. The real threat becomes even more exaggerated and capacities to deal with the threat seem completely inadequate. “This is horrible, out of my control, and I can’t deal with it.” Overwhelmed with the stress of new stimuli and unable to make sense of the situation may lead the child to excessive anxiety and fears, which in turn may develop into chronic anxiety, stress reactions, depression, paranoia and/or other complications discussed in the following sections.

Stress and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. 

One of the leaders in theories of anxiety, Hans Selye spent a life-time studying stress and postulated that almost any change is a stressor, since there is a resultant demand to deal with a new situation. If normal daily stressors are increased to unusual and traumatic events, like child abduction, the short and long term impact may significantly impair development and functioning, — even into adulthood.

There are three stages in General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). In the alarm stage, physiological changes occur, — the heart beats faster, respiration increases and becomes more labored, senses become at least temporarily more alert, perspiration occurs, — all preparing the body to flee or attack. The body responds with panic, a reaction to the fight or flight dilemma. Under continued stress, the second stage begins, — resistance. The body becomes weary and attempts to adjust and adapt to the stress. Despite efforts to adapt, the autonomic system is still working overtime.

If the stress is extended (days, weeks, and months), resistance is further depleted and exhaustion occurs. Energy to continue stress adaptation is depleted. The body gives up, with some resultant damage potentially occurring, — particularly to the heart, kidneys, and stomach. Commonly, psychosomatic disorders occur. These somatic disorders are psychologically mediated physical difficulties, like lethargy, pain, hypertension, headaches, abdominal and gastric distress, and sleep disorders. Feelings of hopelessness and a state of confusion generally accompany the physical symptoms and decision-making deteriorates under intense or prolonged stress.

Extensive replicated research findings have demonstrated these psychosomatic and physiologically damaging consequences may also occur as a result of extended stress from circumstances of childhood trauma. The potential for harmful effects of divorce on children has been widely substantiated. Stress has been documented to alter the brain, cardiovascular systems, immune systems, and hormonal system. For example, it has been discovered that female adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a smaller hippocampus than non-abused women. Stress symptoms that are evident as an adult may be due to occurrences from many years prior, e.g., the long term effects of divorce, such as a fear of intimacy, may occur much later in life, — 10 or 15 years later.

In children, extended stress may result in regression of behaviors, like age inappropriate thumbsucking, excessive clingyness, unexplained crying, bedwetting, and temper tantrums.

Prolonged and unresolved stress may also manifest in displacement, the redirection of impulses (often anger) from the real threat to an innocent and safer person. Often, the redirection is because the threat is too dangerous to confront. This may be the case in an abducted child who redirects his or her anger from the abductor to another person, possibly the abandoned parent for not rescuing and restoring life to the way it had been. Another form of displacement is internal. Instead of displacing hostility to another person, it is turned inward, against oneself. This is not uncommon in depression and suicide.

Extended stress and frustration to resolve the conflict, in an effort to relieve the anxiety, may result in reaction formation, — denial and reversal of feelings. Love becomes hate, or hate becomes love. For example, with a problem between a parent and child, the child may express the anger through exaggeration of affection. In this situation, the child may superficially appear to be closely bonded with the parent who is contributing to the stress; if asked, the child will attest to a strong and loving parent-child relationship.

Yet another stress reaction is identification, — the process of attempting to bond with the person responsible for the stressors and becoming like the abuser to diminish the conflictual anxiety. As an example, some sexual assault victims have been known to identify strongly with offenders, even to the point of developing intimate relationships with incarcerated abusers. In these situations, the victim may emulate and become more and more like the abuser. Identification with and emulation of the offender is particularly true in cases of child sexual assault victims who become adult offenders. In parental child abductions, some children have been known to identify with the abducting parent, to the point of completely rejecting and blaming the abandoned parent, despite evidence absent blame.

Stress also generally interferes with performance, resulting in inhibited learning, poor decision-making, and resulting in restricted development. Intense and prolonged stress, especially in childhood, may create an overreaction to stress, — even years later. Intense reactions to stress and resultant failures become a self perpetuating cycle, creating more stress and more failure. Continued failure breeds the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, which circles back to learned helplessness and giving up.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is more intense than the normal anxiety generally experienced day to day. It’s chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even though time has passed, the circumstance has changed, and there seems to be nothing evident that will continue to provoke anxiety. Having this disorder means anticipating disaster and experiencing excessive concerns about health, money, family, or work. The problems generalize to other situations in life, become self-sustaining, and the original stressors are then difficult to identify.

People suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder cannot seem to control or manage their concerns, even though they may realize their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They seem unable to relax, often have trouble falling or staying asleep, with worries that are accompanied by physical symptoms, like twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating, or hot flashes. There may be feelings of being lightheaded, out of breath, nauseated or an urgency to urinate; or, there may be an almost constant feeling of having a lump in the throat. There may be a heightened startle response, lethargy, or difficulty concentrating. If severe, manifestations of Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be very debilitating, making it difficult to carry out even the most ordinary daily activities (DSM-IV, 1994).

Guilt. 

It is difficult for some to understand the guilt felt by a victim, particularly when the victim is a child. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse continue to remind us that they felt guilt — guilt that they may have in some way brought on the abuse, guilt for feeling some sensate pleasure, guilt for destruction of the family constellation when the abuse was discovered, and guilt for legal consequences to the offender.

Literature on divorce is deplete with references to children feeling that they had somehow brought about difficulties between their parents and were responsible for the culminating division of the family. The guilt of abducted children is not dissimilar.

“These children are extremely guilty when they return and are very fearful of the reaction of the other parent. They do not know who to believe, the are bewildered and very fearful. Many children have a sense that the stealing was their fault and that it could have been avoided. They feel to blame for both the stealing and for the divorce. Many of the older children feel very guilty about not having tried to contact the parent victim. These children feel it is not possible to have a relationship with both parents, and they are town between them. It is not uncommon to see total confusion when they are returned, particularly with a sense of being returned to a stranger.” (Huntington, 1982, p. 8)

Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. 

The diagnoses of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are commonly applied by professionals to victims of abuse situations, such as sexual abuse and child abduction, when the presenting symptoms and applicable conditions apply. According to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1994), a person suffering from Acute Stress Disorder has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:

1. The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others;
2. The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Either while experiencing or after experiencing the distressing event, the individual has three (or more) of the following dissociative symptoms:

1. A subjective sense of numbing, detachment, or absence of emotional responsiveness;
2. A reduction in awareness of his or her surroundings (e.g., “being in a daze”);
3. Derealization;
4. Depersonalization;
5. Dissociative amnesia (i.e., inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma).

Like many reactive effects and symptoms discussed in the sections above, this diagnostic category also includes marked symptoms of anxiety or increased arousal (e.g., difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, motor restlessness). A victim of abuse may meet the criteria for this diagnosis when the disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning; or, when the disturbance impairs the individual’s ability to pursue some necessary task, such as obtaining necessary assistance or mobilizing personal resources by telling family members about the traumatic experience.

Parental Alienation and the Overburdened Child. 

“Physical kidnapping situations leave children extremely susceptible to indoctrination against a target parent. Often the operating strategy is to frighten the child into believing that the only way to exist is to escape some ambiguous harm that is to be inflicted upon the parent, child or both of them by the target parent” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 115).

In Children Held Hostage: Dealing With Programmed and Brainwashed Children, Clawar and Rivlin detail signs of abduction victim “maladjustment that go beyond the impact of separation and divorce” (p. 129). The authors delineate these parental child abduction consequences as “specifically related to the effects of brainwashing and programming.” Clawar and Rivlin list 25 resultant manifestations, including anger, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, development of fears and phobias, depression, sleep disorders, and eating disorders.

“Brainwashing” and “programming” are terms used more and more frequently by experts of parental child abduction. These term may initially offend or alienate the reader who is not familiar with Parental Alienation and abduction dynamics. “Brainwashing” and “programming” — or changing a child’s belief systems, — may be intentional, or, it may be the unintentional process of a parent imposing their belief systems on the child through an extended period of inadvertent repetition.

According to Garbarino et al. (1986), psychological maltreatment can be viewed as a pattern of adult behavior which is psychologically destructive to the child, sabotaging the child’s appropriate normal development of self and social competence. To assist with a framework for understanding brainwashing and parental alienation concepts, five types of psychological maltreatment identified by Garbarino et al. were adapted by Rand (1997) to apply to the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS):

1. Rejecting – The child’s legitimate need for a relationship with both parents is rejected. The child has reason to fear rejection and abandonment by the alienating parent if positive feelings are expressed about the other parent and the people and activities associated with that parent.
2. Terrorizing – The child is bullied or verbally assaulted into being terrified of the target parent. The child is psychologically brutalized into fearing contact with the target parent and retribution by the alienating parent for any positive feelings the child might have for the other parent. Psychological abuse of this type may be accompanied by physical abuse.
3. Ignoring – The parent is emotionally unavailable to the child, leading to feelings of neglect and abandonment. Divorced parents may selectively withhold love and attention from the child, a subtler form of rejecting which shapes the child’s behavior.
4. Isolating – The parent isolates the child from normal opportunities for social relations. In PAS, the child is prevented from participating in normal social interactions with the target parent and relatives and friends on that side of the family. In severe PAS, social isolation of the child sometimes extends beyond the target parent to any social contacts which might foster autonomy and independence.
5. Corrupting – The child is missocialized and reinforced by the alienating parent for lying, manipulation, aggression toward others or behavior which is self destructive. In PAS with false allegations of abuse, the child is also corrupted by repeated involvement in discussions of deviant sexuality regarding the target parent or other family and friends associated with that parent. In some cases of severe PAS, the alienating parent trains the child to be an agent of aggression against the target parent, with the child actively participating in deceits and manipulations for the purpose of harassing and persecuting the target parent.
Separation Anxiety and Fear of Abandonment. 

Separation Anxiety and fear of abandonment is noteworthy enough that it deserves mention separate from fear and learned helplessness. While manifestations of this problem may also meet the criteria for Overanxious Disorder of Childhood, in this instance features are more specific to having been removed from and seemingly abandoned by a parent. As mentioned above, the child may have no way of knowing what attempts the abandoned parent may be making for rescue, may believe to have been deserted by that parent, and may have been convinced by the abducting parent that the abandoned parent is deceased or no longer cares about the child.

According to the DSM-IV (1994), Separation Anxiety is manifested by developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by three (or more) of the following:

1. Recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated;
2. Persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm befalling, major attachment figures;
3. Persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a major attachment figure (e.g., getting lost or being kidnapped);
4. Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation;
5. Persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant adults in other settings;
6. Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a near a major attachment figure or to sleep away from home;
7. Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation;
8. Repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated.

The duration of the disturbance is at least 4 weeks. The onset is before age 18 years. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, academic (occupational), or other important areas of functioning (DSM-IV, 1994).

Even children who have not suffered the trauma of abduction may experience Separation Anxiety and fear of abandonment. The death of a parent, family member, or friend’s parent, as well as extended absences of one parent and other factors normally expected in life may contribute to separation anxiety. That being the case, one can only imagine the degree of Separation Anxiety experienced by a child who believes to have been abandoned by a parent as a consequence of parental abduction circumstances.

Grief. 

Siegelman (1983), an expert on grief, contends that change is upsetting because we are leaving a part of ourselves behind. Any change involves loss of the known and relinquishing of a reality that has contributed to understanding and consistency. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a well respected authority on grief, suggests that the second most intense life stress, second to death, is divorce or loss of a love relationship. “Love relationship” in this sense applies to all familial and close relationships, e.g., husband-wife, parent-child, siblings, etc.

Not only does an abducted child experience the physical distancing and loss of a parent, the child may also be lead to believe the parent is deceased. Parent abductors are frequently known to invent stories about the abandoned parent to silence the frightened child’s questioning. With the death of a parent, generally comes loss of attachment, history, and roots. According to Ross, a sudden, unexpected loss is usually harder to accept than an anticipated loss for which we have had time to prepare, as is the case for a kidnapped child.

Loss and grief experts also agree that the loss of a person on whom we are dependent is difficult to handle, especially if that dependency left us without a life of our own and incompetent to care for ourselves — like that of an abducted child kidnapped from a parent on whom he or she was dependent. Also, the assistance from personal support systems — family and friends — is an important factor in recovering from a loss. Support for such losses are likely to be especially weak when one lives away from family or has few friends, such as the grief-stricken child who was removed from their own support and reality. An abducted child has lost most, if not all support systems.

So, added to the abducted child’s long laundry list of challenges, problems, stressors, and confusions, — is grief. Grief for the absent parent, for a life that no longer exists, for friends and loved ones, and for the certainty and comfort of life as it was.

What has been reported about abducted children? 

According to Greif (1999) in his personal lecture notes on “The Impact of Parental Abduction on Children,” the following have been experienced by “children on the run,” whether they remain within their country of origin or are taken across international borders:

1. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse (the range being from 6% with Finkelhor, to higher with others);
2. Neglect in terms of care, feeding, and psychological nurturing;
3. Specific training in how to be secretive in relation to hiding a sense of self, hiding accomplishments, distrusting authorities, etc.;
4. Being lied to about the searching parent, including being told the searching parent has abandoned the child, doesn’t love the child, or the searching parent is dead;
5. Being moved constantly and denied contact for any significant time with any one other than the abductor – this may include being cut-off from contact with siblings, teachers, friends, grandparents, and other relatives;
6. In addition, and on a more complex level, an abducted child is exposed to a dynamic situation where the child may take on an inappropriate, more adult-like role. In one scenario, the child may become the protector or caretaker of the abductor, if the abductor appears in need of emotional reassurance. In another scenario, the child over-identifies with the abductor in an “us against them” mentality where distrust of authority is the norm. One possible result of either dynamic is that the located child remains with the abductor!

Confirming the discussions above about the impact of child abduction, Greif adds that according to the literature, upon recovery the child may experience:

1. Concerns about safety and reabduction;
2. Guilt and shame;
3. Confusion about his or her identity if there has been a name change;
4. Loyalty conflicts between the searching parent and the abductor with whom the child may have identified;
5. Specific problems like depression, anxiety, anomie, bedwetting, thumb-sucking; and
6. Psychological regression, withdrawal, PTSD-like symptoms, and extreme fright.
Conclusion
“As adults, many victims of bitter custody battles who had been permanently removed from a target parent, whisked away to a new town and given a new identity, still long to be reunited with the lost parent. The loss cannot be undone. Childhood cannot be recaptured. Gone forever is that sense of history, intimacy, lost input of values and morals, self-awareness through knowing one’s beginnings, love, contact with extended family, and much more. Virtually no child possesses the ability to protect him- or herself against such an undignified and total loss” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 105).

Published by: ABP World Group Ltd. Child Recovery Services

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