During the past summer holidays, 50 children were kidnapped by one of their parents. 37 of them were taken abroad from the Netherlands, 13 were brought to the Netherlands from abroad, the Center for International Child Abduction (IKO) said on Friday.

Last summer there were 34 child abductions, the lowest number in five years. According to Center IKO, that decrease was the result of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

41 of the recently abducted children are of compulsory school age, according to Center IKO. 43 children are under the age of 13, of which 9 children are 4 years old or younger. In 60 percent of the cases, the mother was the abducting parent. Two children have returned – much later than agreed, the other 48 have not yet.

Of the 37 children abducted from the Netherlands, 17 were take to another EU country and 20 to a country outside the EU. Of the latter category, two were kidnapped to the United Kingdom.

An authoritative parent needs permission from the other parent to travel abroad with a minor child. To this purpose, a form must be completed and signed.

Center IKO said that this past summer it again noticed in “thousands of phone calls” that (divorced) parents often do not respect each other or simply try to annoy each other. “A parent simply leaves with the child without the permission of the other parent,” the center said. “Or a parent gives the other parent permission for a day at the amusement park just across the border and then it appears on Facebook that the parent left for a tropical destination with the child. Or no information is shared about the holiday location where the child is staying; how terrible for a parent if your child is on holiday in Spain – a country 12 times larger than the Netherlands – and you do not know where your child is.”

Child abduction by a parent is “very drastic and traumatic for a child and the parent left behind in the Netherlands,” said Center IKO. “That parent has legal proceedings ahead of them to try and get the child back. However, once a child crosses the border, it can take months for a child to come back. Sometimes a child doesn’t come back at all.”