Parental Kidnapping – Va. mother faces kidnapping charges


September 29 , 2014

Source: charlestondailymail 

A Virginia woman wanted by police after allegedly kidnapping her three children was arrested in Kanawha County.

Lisa Ann Cantrell

State Police stopped Lisa Ann Cantrell, 50, of Pound, Va., late Saturday on the West Virginia Turnpike in Kanawha County. Cantrell was wanted for kidnapping her three children, a 17-year-old boy, and two girls, aged 12 and 9.

The Wise County (Va.) Sheriff’s Office issued information about a “possible parental child abduction” on their Facebook page over the weekend. The post identified Cantrell and displayed pictures of her and her three children. A description of her vehicle, a green Chevrolet Suburban with Virginia license plates, was also given in the post.

A State Police parkways dispatcher said the vehicle’s information was entered into the National Crime Information Center’s database. A license plate reader in a State Police cruiser picked up the SUV’s tags as it passed at about 10 p.m. Saturday on Interstate 77-64 and the trooper pulled the vehicle over, the dispatcher said.

Virginia deputies posted on Facebook Sunday that the three children were “safe” and that family members were en route to West Virginia to pick them up. Wise deputies were not available for comment Sunday.

Cantrell is being held without bond at South Central Regional Jail and is awaiting extradition to Virginia where she will face kidnapping charges.

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Dad of missing 5-year-old believes ex-wife, son headed west


April 15, 2013

Source: wtop.com

Cameron Serafin is missing. (Courtesy of Fairfax County Police)

UPDATE: Sunday- 4/14/2013, 12:10pm ET

WASHINGTON – The father of a missing 5-year-old boy tells WTOP he believes his ex- wife may be heading to the west coast with their son.

Joe Serafin says he thinks Rebecca Serafin and Cameron may be heading west, but is not aware that she has any friends or family in that part of the country.

Fairfax County police say Rebecca Serafin is now being charged with felony parental abduction, because police believe she’s taken Cameron out of Virginia where she and Joe Serafin share custody.

Police sources tell WTOP, they’vee tracked Rebecca Serafin and Cameron from BWI Airport to Birmingham, Ala., but it’s not known where they are at this point.

EARLIER: Thursday – 4/11/2013, 6:59pm ET

WASHINGTON – A 5-year-old boy is missing, and the boy’s father and Fairfax County police are asking for the public’s help in locating him.

Cameron Serafin is believed to be with his mom, Rebecca Serafin. Fairfax County police in the Reston district say they are concerned about his welfare.

The missing boy’s father, Joe Serafin, spoke to WTOP Thursday afternoon. He is very scared about his son.

“I’m worried about him, I don’t know where he is, I don’t know what’s happening to him,” Serafin says.

The child was supposed to have been returned to his dad on Sunday.

According to police, Rebecca Serafin altered her appearance and Cameron’s appearance in an “apparent attempt to avoid being located.”

Serafin says his ex-wife, Rebecca has a history of mental illness and substance abuse, which includes prescription drugs and heroin.

He says she disappeared with their son once before in 2011. The couple shares custody of Cameron.

Police tell WTOP that Rebecca Serafin also goes by the name Rebecca Love and Cameron also answers to Cameron Love.

He is 3-foot-5 and weighs about 40 pounds.

 

This photo shows what Rebecca and Cameron Serafin apparently now look like. (Courtesy of Fairfax County Police)

An arrest warrant has been issued for Rebecca Serafin, 32, charging her with a misdemeanor of custodial interference.

She is 5-foot-4 and weighs between 120 and 130 pounds.

Rebecca lives at home with her parents in the Great Falls Area, Serafin says. He says she packed some bags and told her parents she was going on a weekend retreat to a friend’s lake house. But, he says, there were an awful lot of bags packed.

Serafin says he knew immediately when they didn’t return that something was wrong. He says she wouldn’t answer any telephone calls or texts.

That’s when he called Fairfax County Police.

He has a message for Rebecca: “Please, just get Cameron home safely. Nothing else matters.”

He pleads with anyone with information to also help: “Please, help bring my son back.”

Information can be emailed to Crime Solvers. Police say people with information may text “TIP187” plus their message to CRIMES/274637 or call police at 703-691-2131.

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US Issues Arrest Warrant for Tunisian-American Accused of Abducting His Children


Source: Tunisia Live

Edeanna Johnson Chebbi, and American citizen, has called for the American and Tunisian governments to help bring back her two children who she says were abducted by her ex-husband, Tunisian-American Faical Chebbi.

According to Ms. Chebbi, her ex-husband picked up the couple’s two children for his bi-weekly visit on Friday, November 11th, 2011, from Ms. Chebbi’s residence in Virginia.  She then received a phone call from her husband the next day: he was calling from Tunisia and had no intentions of returning the children.

Mr. Chebbi granted full legal and physical custody of Eslam, aged 5, and Zainab, aged 2, to his then-wife in January, 2011. In October of the same year, the couple’s divorce was finalized.

Ms. Chebbi holds that Mr. Chebbi violated U.S. law by leaving the country with Eslam and Zainab. At the time that Faical left, both parents were under a court order not to remove the children from the U.S.

There are currently state and federal warrants in the U.S. for the return of Zainab and Eslam, and for the arrest of Faical Chebbi.

Ms. Chebbi has gained attention for her cause in Virginia and within the United States: A petition to return the two children was signed by 18,000 Americans. In addition, a rally was organized in front of the Tunisian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Chebbi stated that officials at the Tunisian Embassy reassured her long before the kidnapping that they would not provide Faical with passports for his children without notifying her. However, an official at the embassy told Tunisia Live that they gave Ms. Chebbi no such assurances. The official stated that Mr. Chebbi had every right to acquire Tunisian passports for his two children who, according to Tunisian law, are Tunisian citizens due to their father’s nationality.

The Tunisian Embassy refused to further comment on the case, insisting that they had not broken any Tunisian laws, which are the only laws they are required to follow.

Ms. Chebbi stated to Tunisia Live that she has hired a Tunisian lawyer to plead her case in the country’s courts.

Although in violation of U.S. custody law, Mr. Chebbi is within his legal rights in Tunisia. Tunisian law gives the father full discretion as to where his minor children travel and reside. In addition, children born in a foreign country to a Tunisian father automatically obtain Tunisian citizenship.

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

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Pakistan – American development expert abducted in Pakistan


Sounce: CNN

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — Gunmen abducted an American development expert early Saturday, pistol-whipping him and his driver, and tying up his guards after getting past security by posing as neighbors offering food, U.S. Embassy and Pakistani officials told CNN.

The U.S. embassy identified the man as Warren Weinstein, and a Pakistani official said he works for a U.S. consulting firm based in Arlington, Virginia. He’s is a world-renowned development expert, with 25 years of experience, according to his company’s website.

As Weinstein’s security guards prepared for the meal before the Ramadan fast early Saturday, three men knocked at the front gate and offered food for the meal — a traditional practice among Muslims during the Ramadan holy month, according to senior Lahore police official Tajamal Hussain.

Once the gate was opened, the three men forced their way in, while five other suspects entered the house from the back, Hussain said. The men tied up the three security guards and duct-taped their mouths, he said. They pistol-whipped the driver and forced him to take them to Weinstein’s room where the men hit Weinstein in the head with a pistol, and forced him out of the house and into a waiting car, Hussain said. He said Weinstein is in his 60s.

There has been no claim of responsibility nor any demands by any groups so far, according to senior police official Awais Ahmed.

Weinstein has lived in the residence in an upscale Lahore neighborhood for several years, Ahmed said. He works for JE Austin Associates Inc., according to Lahore police chief Nayab Haider.

According to the company’s website, the consulting firm is based in Arlington, Virginia. The site says he was heading what the company described as the “Pakistan Initiative for Strategic Development and Competitiveness.”

It also says Weinstein is a Fulbright Scholar in Belgium and is proficient in six languages, with a doctorate in international law and economics.

U.S. Embassy officials are working with Pakistani authorities on the case, embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said

The U.S. State Department this week updated a travel advisory for Americans traveling and working in Pakistan, warning that extremist groups operating in the country were continuing to target U.S. and other Western citizens and interests.

It cited part of the reason for the advisory as “reported” abductions of U.S. citizens “for ransom or personal reasons,” including the kidnapping of a U.S. citizen in Lahore in June. No further details about that incident were released.

Abductions are not unusual in Pakistan, though those targeted are typically Pakistani rather than American or Western.

In early July, a Swiss couple was grabbed at gunpoint while traveling in the town of Loralai in the volatile southwestern Balochistan province, provincial officials said at the time.

Three weeks after their abduction, Pakistani authorities said they believed the couple was still alive.

Weinstein’s abduction follows another high-profile incident involving an American in Lahore.

Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor, was charged with killing two men in January, but was released in March after compensation was paid to their families.

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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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ABP World Group international child recovery service


ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

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

We also provide:

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

For more information, visit our web site: www.abpworld.com

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Wo ist Marvin?


By:ZDF

Vater verschwindet mit sechsjährigem Sohn

Die 43-jährige Sabine Engl ist verzweifelt. Ihr Sohn Marvin ist seit fünf Monaten verschwunden. Ihr Ex-Mann hat Marvin nach einer gemeinsamen Ferienwoche mit seinem Sohn nicht nach Hause zurückgebracht.

Vier Jahre war Sabine Engl mit ihrem Mann verheiratet, 2007 kam die Trennung. Das gemeinsame Sorgerecht für ihren damals vierjährigen Sohn regelten beide mit einem rechtsverbindlichen Vertrag. Darin wurde festgelegt, dass Marvin bei seiner Mutter wohnt. Der Vater sollte den Jungen am Wochenende von Freitag bis Samstag bei sich haben. In den Ferien lebte Marvin die Hälfte der Zeit bei der Mutter, die andere Hälfte beim Vater. Doch nach den letzten Herbstferien bringt der Vater Marvin einfach nicht zurück. Er schickt nur eine SMS mit den zwei Worten: “Wird später.”

Sabine Engl. Quelle: ZDF 

ZDF
SMS an Marvins Mutter

Vater und Sohn in Norwegen?

Sabine Engl versucht immer wieder, ihren Ex-Mann zu erreichen. Sie alarmiert die Polizei, meldet ihren Sohn als vermisst. Und sie stellt Strafanzeige. Schließlich beauftragt sie eine Privatdetektei, die Vater und Sohn tatsächlich in Norwegen aufspürt. “Die sind in Norwegen unterwegs gewesen und haben dann ein Foto geschossen, worauf ich den Marvin und meinen Ex-Mann erkennen kann”, sagt Sabine Engl. Doch die Spur verliert sich.

Die Polizei vernimmt unterdessen Verwandte und Freunde des Mannes. Dabei finden die Beamten heraus, dass die neue Lebensgefährtin Vater und Sohn am 16. Oktober 2009 zum Düsseldorfer Flughafen gebracht hat. Auch die Flugtickets im Wert von rund 1.600 Euro sind von ihrer Kreditkarte abgebucht worden. Doch die Lebensgefährtin besteht darauf, nicht zu wissen, wohin beide geflogen sind und nicht mehr mit ihnen in Kontakt zu stehen.

Marvin. Quelle: ZDF 

ZDF
Foto der Detektei

Europaweite Fahndung ausgeschrieben

Nun bleibt Sabine Engl als letzte Hoffnung die deutsche Justiz. Das alleinige Sorgerecht hat sie bereits erwirkt. Im Januar, drei Monate nach dem Verschwinden Marvins, gibt die Staatsanwaltschaft Kaiserslautern eine europaweite Fahndung nach dem Vater raus. Doch das bedeutet nicht, dass eine Verhaftung vorgenommen werden soll. Christian Schröder, Staatsanwalt in Kaiserslautern, erklärt: “Es ist eine Fahndung, die sich darauf richtet, den Aufenthalt des Beschuldigten festzustellen. Es ist keine Fahndung, die auch dem Ziel dient, ihn festzunehmen.”

Sabine Engl. Quelle: ZDF 

ZDF
Sabine Engl vermisst ihren Sohn

Denn eine Festnahme mit Haftbefehl setzt voraus, dass Marvins Vater für seine Straftat eine Freiheitsstrafe erwartet. Aber das ist hier nicht der Fall. Ihm drohe lediglich eine Geldstrafe, so Schröder.

Zitat

„Ich träume jede Nacht irgendwelche schlimmen Sachen, manchmal auch gute, dass ich ihn wiederhabe. “

Sabine Engl

Mutter hat schlaflose Nächte

Sabine Engl bemüht sich mit ihrer Tochter Jennifer aus erster Ehe, den Alltag zu meistern. Doch seit dem Verschwinden ihres Sohnes fehlt ihr die Kraft. “Ich träume jede Nacht irgendwelche schlimmen Sachen, manchmal auch gute, dass ich ihn wiederhabe. Ich hab einfach auch schlaflose Nächte, unzählige.” Zurzeit bleiben ihr nur die Erinnerungen an glückliche Zeiten. Doch Sabine gibt die Hoffnung nicht auf, Marvin bald wieder bei sich zu haben.

Wo ist Marvin?

Wenn Sie Informationen zu dem Fall haben oder Marvin und seinen Vater gesehen haben, wenden Sie sich bitte an die Staatsanwaltschaft Kaiserslautern unter der Telefonnummer 0631-3721200 (ortsüblicher Tarif). Weitere Kontaktinformationen finden Sie auf der Website(Externer Link – Öffnet in neuem Fenster) der Staatsanwaltschaft.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Parental Abduction – Lesson 1


By: Jake Morphonios

Imagine…

You wait for your former spouse to return your son following a schedule weekend visit. When your child isn’t returned, you go to the other parent’s home only to discover that the apartment has been vacated.

The physiological response in each of these situations is the same. Your heart begins to pound and your adrenaline starts to surge through your veins as the realization dawns that your children are gone. In an instant your brain considers possible explanations, but they each defy logic. Your brain already knows what your heart is desperately trying to deny. Your children have been kidnapped.

There are few horrors that can rival the experience of having one’s child kidnapped. Movies and television shows sensationalize child abduction. The nightly news further distorts correct understanding of child abduction by only reporting on the most dramatic of cases, for example, the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. There exists, however, a less-glamorous form of child abduction which is perpetrated by the child’s own parent.

Parental Kidnappings

Each year there are more than 350,000 child abductions in America. The vast majority of these kidnappings are perpetrated by one of the child’s parents. The official term for this type of crime is “parental child abduction”, but it is also referred to as a “child kidnapping” or “child snatching”. Regardless of the terminology, the fact that the child is taken by the other parent does not diminish or negate the raw emotional trauma inflicted upon the other parent.

Parental kidnapping is the unlawful abduction of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of their lawful custody of the child.  In divorce situations, the abductor may be the custodial or the non-custodial parent. This means that even if the abductor is the custodial parent or primary caregiver, if the abduction deprives the other parent of his or her court ordered visitation time then the custodial parent is guilty of parental child abduction.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention conducted an intensive and thorough research study on child abduction in America. The project is called the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART). The section that focused specifically on children abducted by family members is called NISMART-2. This article extensively references the NISMART-2. The original study may be found at: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org

Defining Parental Child Abduction

“For the purposes of NISMART-2, family abduction was defined as the taking or keeping of a child by a family member in violation of a custody order, a decree, or other legitimate custodial rights, where the taking or keeping involved some element of concealment, flight, or intent to deprive a lawful custodian indefinitely of custodial privileges.”

The NISMART-2 elaborates on the definition above by further defining the following terms:

  • Taking: Child was taken by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Keeping: Child was not returned or given over by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Concealment: Family member attempted to conceal the taking or whereabouts of the child with the intent to prevent return, contact or visitation.
  • Flight: Family member transported or had the intent to transport the child from the State for the purpose of making recovery more difficult.
  • Intent to deprive indefinitely: Family member indicated intent to prevent contact with the child on an indefinite basis or to affect custodial privileges indefinitely.

Conceptualizing the Problem

Of the 203,900 parental child abduction cases studied, 57% were labeled as “caretaker missing”, meaning that the victimized parent did not know where the child was for at least 1 hour, became alarmed and searched for the missing child. However, the NISMART-2 reveals:

“It is possible for a child to have been unlawfully removed from custody by a family member, but for that child’s whereabouts to be fully known. Thus, a child can be abducted but not necessarily missing.”

In fact, the study found that 43% of the children kidnapped were not thought of as “missing” by the victimized parent because the child’s whereabouts were known to the victim parent.

“Although the family abductions described in this study typically had certain disturbing elements such as attempts to prevent contact or alter custodial arrangements permanently, they did not generally involve the most serious sorts of features associated with the types of family abductions likely to be reported in the news. Actual concealment of the child occurred in a minority of episodes. Use of force, threats to harm the child and flight from the State were uncommon. In contrast to the image created by the word ‘abduction,’ most of the children abducted by a family member were already in the lawful custody of the perpetrator when the episode started. In addition, nearly half of the family abducted children were returned in 1 week or less.”

Even if the child is not considered missing, the abduction is still considered child abuse because of the damage that it inflicts upon the child. The NISMART-1 found that, “family abduction can result in psychological harm to the child” and the NISMART-2 states that “family abductions constitute an important peril in the lives of children it is important to remember that the potential harm to family abducted children exists whether or not they are classified as missing”.

Characteristics of Parental Abductions

Location and Season. 73% of parental abductions took place in the child’s own home or yard, or in the home or yard of a relative or friend. Children were removed from schools or day care centers in only 7% of the cases. In 63% of the cases, the children were already with the abductor in lawful circumstances immediately prior to the abduction.

Police Contact. In 40% of all cases, the aggrieved parent did not contact the police to report the abduction. The study found a number of reasons for this, but the majority of responses indicated that the parent did not believe that the police would intervene in the matter because the child’s whereabouts were known, they were in the care of a legal guardian, and it did not appear that the child was being harmed. The highest percentage of abductions took place during the summer.

Ages. 45% of abductors were in their 30’s. 44% of abducted children were younger than age 6.

Indicators of serious episodes. “The use of threats, physical force, or weapons was relatively uncommon in family abductions.” 17% were moved out of State with the intent to make recovery more difficult. 44% were concealed, at least temporarily, from the victimized parent-+. 76% included attempts to prevent contact. 82% included intent to permanently affect the custodial privileges of the aggrieved parent.

Conclusion

Parental child abduction is the unlawful kidnapping of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of his or her lawful custodial rights. This kind of child snatching not only victimizes the other parent, but it is also a serious form of child abuse.

When the abducting parent chooses to go underground or flees the state or country, recovery of the child becomes exceptionally difficult – and sometimes impossible. Because of this, if you suspect that your child is at risk of abduction you must act now. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of abduction, as well as actions designed to make the recovery of your child far more likely.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

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New Definition of Parental Alienation Syndrome


What is the Difference Between Parental Alienation (PA) and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?

by Douglas Darnall

In Dr. Richard Gardner’s second edit of parental alienation syndrome, he defined PAS as “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrination and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.” He went on to emphasize the point that if “true parental abuse and / or neglect is present” and the child’s animosity is justified, PAS would not be an appropriate explanation for the children’s feelings.

Gardner describes what the severely alienated child will look like. To better understand PAS and help prevent the damage its causes children and families, I am suggesting that parents and the courts must understand the process that leads to PAS. Therefore I am defining parental alienation (PA), rather than PAS, as any constellation of behaviors, whether conscious or unconscious, that could evoke a disturbance in the relationship between a child and the other parent.


My definition of Parental Alienation is different from Dr. Gardner’s original definition of PAS in 1987: “a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.” I am placing the emphasis on the brainwashing process while Dr. Gardner’s definition goes a step further to explain that the term is similar in meaning to brainwashing except that he adds the additional component of the child becoming active participant in the denigrating the targeted parent. In effect, the child has been successfully brainwashed.

With either definition, the motivation for the alienating parent has both a conscious as well as “a subconscious or unconscious” component.

The children themselves may have motivations that will make the alienation worse. Their hedonistic outlook for immediate gratification or their desire to avoid discomfort makes them vulnerable allies for siding with the alienating parent. The children become an advocate for the alienating parent by becoming the spokesperson for their parent’s hatred. They become the soldiers while the alienating parent is the general directing the action in the background against the targeted parent. The children are frequently unaware of how they are being used. It is most important to understand that if the child is angry and refuses to visit the targeted parent because of actual abuse or neglect, the child’s behavior is not a manifestation of PAS. This is why the issue of false allegations is so important.

Another difference in what I am outlining in my book (“Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Children From Parental Alienating“) is my emphasis on the alienating parents rather then on the severity of symptoms. I believe this is important because parents (both mothers and fathers) must be able to honestly look at their behavior, identify the symptoms of alienation (not just the symptoms of PAS), and learn strategies for preventing PA regardless of whether the parent is the alienator or the targeted parent. I believe that alienation is a reciprocal process where both parents get caught up in alienation.

Dr. Gardner’s most controversial solution for dealing with severe alienation was to remove the children from the alienator’s home and place the child with the targeted parent. Later, however, he recanted his recommendation, saying that the children “are likely to run away and do everything possible to return to [the alienating parent’s] home (Gardner, 1992).”  Dr. Gardner then recommended “transitional sites” such as friend or family member’s house, a community shelter, or hospital. Each site would have a different level of supervision and resources to help the children and targeted parent. Hospitalization would be used only as a last resort.

Dr. Gardner’s definition emphasized the point that the child must be an active participant with the alienating parent in degrading the targeted parent.  My definition of Parental Alienation (PA) focuses more on the parent’s behavior and less on the child’s role in degrading the victimized parent, because alienation can occur well before the parent’s hatred for the other parent permeates the child’s beliefs about the victimized parent. This definition is necessary if parents are going to recognize the risk they have for unconsciously falling into a pattern of alienation if they don’t take corrective action. By the time the children have come to agree with the alienating parent’s propaganda, it can too late to prevent the significant damaging effects of the alienation. *(See Note at the end of this article for an important new finding.)
Also, Dr. Gardner’s definition states that the criticism of the other parent must be unjustified and/or exaggerated. I do not believe this is necessary. One parent can alienate the children against the other parent simply by harping on faults that are real and provable. Divorced parents need to understand that their children need to love both parents if at all possible, even if they themselves have years ago ceased to love their ex-spouse or ex-partner. They should help the children to dwell on the other parent’s good points rather than the faults.

It is important to keep in mind that that alienation is not about the horrible parent or “bad guy,” versus the targeted parent or “good guy.” The “bad guy-good guy” roles rotate. The same parent can be both the alienator and the victim, depending on how he or she is behaving. It is not uncommon for a targeted parent to retaliate with alienating behavior against the other parent. At this point, the parents have reversed their roles. This process can occur well before PAS manifest itself. The problem now is that the alienation escalates back and forth, each parent retaliating against the other. What does this do to your children? It is this vicious cycle that must be prevented or stopped.

You can’t assume that the targeted parent is without fault. Targeted parents can become alienators when they retaliate because of their hurt. Now they are in the role of the alienator and the other parent becomes the victim. The roles become blurred because it’s now difficult to know who is the alienator and who is the victim or targeted parent. Often both parents feel victimized. Alienation is a process, not a person.

Understanding parental alienation is paramount for a child’s welfare and a parent’s own peace of mind. Divorced parents, grandparents, judges, mediators, attorneys, and mental health workers all need to understand the dynamics of parental alienation, recognize the symptomatic behavior, and execute tactics for combating the malady.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

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