Family Abductions: What We’ve Learned An In-Depth Analysis by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

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A family abduction is defined as the taking, retention or concealment of a child, younger than 18 years of age, by a parent, other person with a family relationship to the child, or his or her agent, in violation of the custody rights, including visitation rights of a parent or legal guardian. Between 2008 and 2017, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) received 16,264 children with 11,761 known abductors who were involved in family abductions cases. Children and abductors were analyzed for demographics, and missing and recovery information. This report also presents information pertaining to missing duration, as well the amount of time taken to obtain a state warrant or enter the child in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).The majority of these cases involved children who were abducted by a biological parent (89.9%). Family abductions are more likely to occur when the child(ren) are younger and the abduction takes place most often during the summer. Children abducted by family members were most likely to have a mean age of 5 years old. Almost a third (32.2%) of these children were abducted in the summer months (June, July, August). In the past decade, there has been an overall decline in the amount of time in which the child is separated from their custodial parent/guardian when they are abducted by a family member.Cases with an international component had longer missing durations than domestic cases, but the durations of both were on the decline. This report found significant correlations between the time it took to issue state warrant and the missing duration of a child.