Europol: Italian mafia poses big threat to European economy


June 25 , 2013

Source: Europol

The EU police agency, Europol, Monday launched A report titled “Threat Assessment on Italian Organised Crime” which was carried out to evaluate the impact of mafia structures based in Italy on the European Union. Read the report here

Italian_Mafia

The assessment, which is the result of two years of work by intelligence analysts at Europol, underlines how the main Italian organised crime groups (principally ‘Cosa Nostra’, the ‘Camorra’ and the ‘Ndrangheta’) are operating worldwide but are careful to keep a very low profile, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect their presence, said Europol in a statement.

“The Italian mafia-style groups are among the most threatening in Europe and in order to fight them, a pan-European approach is needed. Those of us in the law enforcement community need to step up our cooperation in tackling the most dangerous criminal groups,” said Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol which is based at the Hague in the Netherlands.

Domenico-Raccuglia

The main criminal activities of these groups are money laundering and large-scale drug trafficking. However, they are also involved in corruption, counterfeiting and the trafficking of toxic waste.
In these times of economic crisis, the immense assets that organised crime groups have at their disposal (the Calabrian Ndrangheta are estimated to generate illicit revenues of up to 44 billion euros a year) make it easy for these groups to infiltrate the legitimate economy, injecting much-needed liquidity into struggling businesses, noted the statement.

The criminals’ ‘expansion strategies’ mean that they are now touching parts of Italy and Europe not historically affected by organised crime, which could cause serious damage to the EU economy in the long run, added the statement.

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Kinderontvoering door ouders: Aantal ontvoeringen van kinderen door ouders stijgt


April 13, 2013

Source: hln.be

In 2011 zijn in ons land 241 ontvoeringen van minderjarigen door een ouder geregistreerd. Dat aantal zit sinds 2008 (170 feiten) in de lift. In 2009 werden er 209 feiten vastgesteld en in 2010 214. In de eerste 6 maanden van 2012 waren dat er 96.

Ontvoeringer_Kinderen

Ook het aantal pogingen tot ouderlijke ontvoering steeg in de periode 2009-2011 van 19 tot 39. In 2008 werden 31 pogingen geregistreerd en in het eerste semester van 2012 17. In 2011 werden ook 139 andere ontvoeringen van minderjarigen en 107 pogingen tot vastgesteld. In 2010 was dat respectievelijk 93 en 104 en in de eerste 6 maanden van 2012 68 en 72. Het totaal aantal ontvoeringen (met inbegrip van de pogingen) van minderjarigen steeg in de periode 2008-2011 van 435 tot 526 (253 in de eerste 6 maanden van 2012).

Minister van Binnenlandse Zaken Joëlle Milquet deelt ook cijfers over het aantal “vrijheidsberovingen door een particulier”. In 2011 werden 862 dergelijke feiten (met inbegrip van pogingen) geregistreerd. Ook dit cijfer zit sinds 2008 (683) in de lift. In de eerste 6 maanden van 2012 werden 409 feiten vastgesteld.

In 2011 werden ook 68 gijzelingen (pogingen inbegrepen) geregistreerd. Dat aantal daalt. In 2010 werden 79 dergelijke feiten vastgesteld, in 2009 101 en in de eerste 6 maanden 2012 31.

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Parental Abduction: Man pleads guilty to parental kidnapping after taking son on world tour


Source: CNN

A 51-year-old man has pleaded guilty to international parental kidnapping weeks after his brother did the same, for the same charge, for illicitly taking their juvenile sons on a worldwide trek, a federal prosecutor’s office announced Friday.

John Silah, a citizen of Syria, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in a federal court in California for taking his son, Greg, out of the United States for two years without the consent of the boy’s custodial mother, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central California said in a press release. He is set to be sentenced August 6 by U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright.

His brother George Silah, who pleaded guilty February 21 for the parental kidnapping of two of his own sons, will be sentenced on May 29. The maximum sentence for a conviction on the charge is three years.

George and John Silah were both divorced from their respective wives in July 2008 and had partial custody of their sons, who were then between the ages of 11 and 14 and lived in the Los Angeles area.

The boys were supposed to take a Disney cruise with their fathers at that time, but they never made it, the boys’ families said on websites dedicated to their return.

Those websites contained messages of love and hope for their safe return directed almost every month at the then-missing children. Greg’s mother, Christine Stackhouse, wrote her last post on gregsilah.com on October 16, 2010, titled “Missing you this Halloween.”

“Greg, we will be missing you this Halloween and we hope that next year you will be with us so we can all go trick-or-treating and collect lots of candy just like the old times!”

A November 5, 2010, post on silahboys.blogspot.com announced that the boys had been found and their fathers taken into custody in the Netherlands.

It was the last stop on a two-year journey in which the Silah brothers and their sons traveled through Mexico, Central America and Europe, where investigators eventually caught up with them.

The boys’ mothers flew to the Netherlands in 2010 to reunite with them, while the Silah brothers were detained at the request of U.S. authorities. George Silah — a naturalized citizen of the United States — returned to the United States in October 2011, while John Silah was extradited in March of this year.

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Child abduction by a parent – it happens more often than one might think


Source: GMW Advocaten

Marjet van Yperen-Groenleer

Child abduction by a parent: it happens more often than one might think

From a legal point of view, child abduction happens when the child is removed from his or her habitual place of residence by one of the parents – or any adult, for that matter, acting on behalf of the other parent – without the consent and agreement of the (other) custodian or parent. 

Although it might not be immediately obvious, not returning the child on time, as agreed, after a holiday abroad or a family visit in the country of origin also counts as child abduction. The same holds good for expat families living in The Netherlands for short periods of time or for families that actually live apart most of the time. However, in these cases  establishing the habitual place of residence of a child is more difficult than it may seem at first sight.

Recent case law indicates an increase in the number of child abduction cases. Although each case has its unique circumstances, the increased dynamics of the global work force may be one reason for this development.

The Hague Convention on Child Abduction is a legal tool that is meant to help a/the custodial parent to regain access to the abducted child, facilitating the return of the minor to his or her habitual place of residence. By appointing a Central Authority in each country, the signatory parties have all agreed to co-operate towards the immediate return of the abducted child to his or her habitual place of residence.

At present, the custodial parent may ask for the assistance of the Central Authority in his or her country of residence, within one year from the date when the child has not been returned. Upon this request, the Central Authority in the country of the child’s habitual residence will contact the Central Authority in the country where the child has been removed to, in order to quickly return the child to its habitual place of residence. It is advisable, however, that the parent also notifies the police, filing an official complaint for abduction.

Sadly, abductions also happen into countries that are not signatory parties to the Convention. As awareness on such cases grows internationally, case law catches up with reality: even when a child has been held against the will of the custodian parent in a country that is not a signatory to the Convention, quite often the Central Authority manages to negotiate the return of the child via diplomatic channels. Needless to say, but good to reiterate: countries that are not signatories to the Convention are under no obligation to co-operate.

The Eerste Kamer ( Dutch Senate) has received a draft law asking to end the monopoly position of the Central Authority in cases of international child abduction. The custodial parent whose child has been abducted might soon be able to take action by ways of hiring a lawyer specialised in such cases, should the draft law be passed. This would hopefully speed up proceedings, also widening the spectrum of available legal tools.

The mere thought of having to deal with child abduction is harrowing and prevention is always better than having to resort to cure. It might be possible to prevent abduction by hiding the children’s passports, keeping the channels of communication with the inlaws open or informing the police. It is essential that the parents’ problems remain negotiable; cross-border mediation has prooved to be succesful. GMW Advocaten has extensive expertise in dealing with cases of international child abduction and is happy to assist the wronged parent.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if your child has been abducted, if you are contemplating the abduction of your child or if you are aware of a situation where child abduction might occur.

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Brat Camps and Boot Camps for troubled teens


Source: Boot camps
Brat Camps
    Whoever would’ve guessed that watching a bunch of unruly, disrespectful “brats” would be considered entertainment?! From the UK to the United States, viewers are glued to their televisions, watching the adventures, battles and emotional breakdowns of a group of teens that need a quick dose of reality in the new TV series “Brat Camps”.
    Brat camps are very similar to wilderness programs and some of them closely resemble the juvenile boot camps that have grown in popularity. Brat camps are considered by many to be good options for teens that have early signs of problems but have not become firmly attatched to negative influences and bad behavior. However, teens that have developed bad habits over long period of time would benefit more from long-term options that range from 12-18 months. Long-term options have the ability to replace bad habits with positive, constructive habits that will benefit the teen throughout their lives.
 Boot Camp Overview

Started as an alternative to jail for juvenile adolescents, there are serveral types of teen boot camps from state run to privately run where the teen will be mentally and physically challenged. These facilities can be a starting place for getting your teen help. In both the state and private environment the camps goal is to scare kids straight generally only giving a good short-term solution. Parents often seek out boot camps with the assumption that a “wake up call” is all that is needed for their troubled teen.

Boot Camps are often short-term, however, long-term boot camps have increased in popularity for their ability to help defiant adolescents improve their behavior at home and school. They are modeled after military-style, military exercises, and intense physical training focusing on reality, respect and responsibility. Many teens lack these qualities, yet they desperately need them in order to successfully transition into adulthood. This experience can help teens replace destructive attitudes and behaviors with new perspectives and direction in their lives. The theology behind a short-term camp being that a “quick reality check” will turn a child around who has been acting out. These boot camp style programs are usually ineffective for teens that have developed bad habits over a long period of time and are in need of long term change.
What is it like to be in a Teen Boot Camp?
A true teen boot camp will include uniforms, marching in formation as well as a “yes sir” and “no sir” mentality.  They will include a very structured environment that includes the trainers getting right in the face of the cadet. Barracks will be similar to those in the U.S. Military’s “basic training” program and will be authentic in areas including bunk beds, foot lockers and a very strict, no holes barred system of inspections that must be completed without error if the teen is to survive the ordeal, even for a short period of time.  Whether a child is able to handle this type of environment is actually a question that must be considered before a parent puts a struggling teen in the midst of these intense drill instructors and within the environment that does not permit any outside contact for a prescribed period of time. Parents should consider more than just if the cadet can survive. They should consider whether juvenile boot camps are the right choice for a troubled teen. It is clear that teens with behavioral problems that are beyond the scope of these environments should not be considered for teen boot camps.

Do Boot Camps Work?

    These type of programs are designed as a quick fix and may help a struggling teen with respect, obedience and appreciation. However, they are not a good long term option for teens that need help. Recidivism rates suggest that they are not a good solution for long term change.

Health and Safety Issues
    Health and Safety of your teen should be considered when choosing a juvenile boot camp. Boot camps have come under fire recently with health and safety issues. Some may attempt to push a child too much or may be to extreme with their in your face approach. Many choose to use too much military drill instructor techniques. While the drill sergeant may have success with military basic training cadets who have voluntarily gone to boot camp. Ex-drill sergeants may be ineffective with a struggling teen that is not as motivated as some one enrolled into the military.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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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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International Child Abduction – A Guide to the Basic Law


By:Tre Critelli

As the world continues to get smaller and international travel more common, areas of the law once thought to be of primarily local jurisdiction are now turning out to have international complications. Nowhere is this more evident than in the area of family law.

Marriages between citizens of differing countries can be extremely beneficial and worthwhile, but when they break down the fight over child custody and visitation can quickly become quite complex. Simply serving a legal notice of a lawsuit on a party residing in a different country can be difficult and at times expensive. Often it requires familiarity with the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, something few attorneys have any experience with. Further complications develop when one spouse decides to take matters into their own hands and simply disappears with the child, returning to their homeland.

In order to provide a remedy for such “abductions,” the international community came up with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This Convention aims to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State (i.e. country) of their habitual residence. As of this date, some 55 countries are signatories to the Convention. Some of these countries, however, are more than reluctant to comply with the terms of the Convention despite the fact that they have signed it.

Utilization of the Convention is fairly straightforward. Each country that has signed the Convention has a Central Authority to which an aggrieved parent may apply for assistance. An aggrieved parent is one whose child has been taken. That Central Authority will contact the Central Authority of the country to which the child has been taken. An attempt will then be made to locate the child and obtain a voluntary return. In the event that the parent refuses to return the child, a lawsuit is brought on behalf of the aggrieved parent to compel the return of the child.

As an example, if a child was taken from her residence in the state of Iowa and brought to London, England by her mother, the child’s father would contact the U.S. Central Authority, the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues. They would assist the father in completing a Petition for Return of Child which would be filed with the Central Authority of England and Wales, the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit. The authorities in England would attempt to get the mother to return to Iowa with the child. If they were unsuccessful, then the father would bring a lawsuit against the mother in the English court system. The same process would be used if the child was resident in London, England and was wrongfully brought to the State of Iowa by her father: the mother would contact the Central Authority in London which would in turn contact the Central Authority in the United States. If unsuccessful, she would file a lawsuit in the US court where the child was located.

Once a lawsuit is filed, in order to win a case of wrongful removal or retention under the Hague Convention, the aggrieved parent must show that:

(1) the child was “habitually resident” in the country before being removed;

(2) the child’s removal was in breach of the “rights of custody” of “a person, an institution or any other body;” and

(3) that those rights “were actually exercised at the time of removal or would have been so exercised in the absence of his removal.” See Hague Convention, Art. 3.

As one would expect, there has been a significant amount of jurisprudence (legal theory) develop as it concerns the above terms. Courts have concluded that the term “habitually resident” refers to a child’s customary residence prior to his or her removal but focuses not upon a child’s domicile or legal residence but rather where the child physically lived for an amount of time sufficient for acclimatization and which has a degree of settled purpose from the child’s perspective. In other words, where the child likely considered its home.

“Rights of custody,”” meanwhile, include rights relating to the care of the person of the child and, in particular, the right to determine the child’s place of residence. These rights may arise by operation of law or by reason of a judicial or administrative decision, or by reason of an agreement having legal effect under the law of that State.

After the aggrieved parent has shown the court that the child was wrongfully abducted, the burden shifts to the opposing parent to show by clear and convincing evidence why the child should not be returned. Under the Convention, it is an affirmative defense if:

(1) the person seeking return of the child consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention;

(2) the proceeding was commenced more than one year after the removal of the child;

(3) the children have become well-settled in their new environment; and

(4) there is a grave risk that the return of the children would expose them to physical or psychological harm.

Court decisions on this matter are quite clear that acquiescence under the Convention requires either an act or statement with the requisite formality, such as testimony in a judicial proceeding; a convincing written enunciation of rights; or a consistent attitude of acquiescence over a significant period of time. Acquiescence has been held to be a question of subjective intent. Many lawsuits in international child abduction matters focus upon whether or not one of the parents agreed or consented to the removal of the child.

Parents should be aware of the “one year” defense. Commencement of proceedings, as used in Article 12 of the Convention, means the filing of a civil petition for relief in any court which has jurisdiction in the place where the child is located at the time the petition is filed. Once the location of the child is known, the clock starts to run. However, Article 12 goes on to state that “even where the proceedings have been commenced after the expiration of the period of one year…, [the court] shall also order return of the child, unless it is demonstrated that the child is now settled it its new environment.” Hague Convention, Article 12. As for this “well settled” exception, it should be noted that the court retains the discretion to order the children returned even if an exception applies. Nor is a court obligated to take into account the child’s wishes.

Finally, Article 13(b) of the Hague Convention allows a court to deny return of a child to the country of habitual residence if “there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.” Generally speaking, such a risk arises in two situations: (1) imminent danger such as war, famine, or disease; or (2) when there is likely to be serious abuse or neglect and the court in the country of habitual residence, for whatever reason, may be incapable or unwilling to give the child adequate protection. As a parent, you will be expected to provide compelling evidence that the child will in all likelihood be in danger if returned.

As should be no surprise, international child abduction matters are extremely complex, both in legal substance and procedure. In the unfortunate event that your child has been abducted, you should contact an attorney experienced in the area of international child abduction immediately. Time is of the essence, and a quick response can often be the difference between a voluntary return of the child and a long, expensive court battle in a foreign country.

For additional information concerning International Child Abduction, please see the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues: http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html

For assistance in locating qualified lawyers, please see http://www.critellilaw.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tre_Critelli

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