Family Abduction Prevention and Response

General information about the resource:

Type of Resoure: Knowledge Products
Language: English

What is it about?

Many child abductions in the United States are committed by a parent or other family member. An estimated 203,900 children were victims of family abduction in the United States in 1999, according to the second National Incidence Studies: Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrown away Children(NISMART-2), a study published by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention(OJJDP), U.S. Department of Justice, in 2002.1 Children who are victims of family abduction are uprooted from their homes and deprived of their other parent.Often they are told the other parent no longer loves them or is dead. Too often abducted children live a life of deception, sometimes under a false name, moving frequently and lacking the stability needed for healthy, emotional development.The term parental kidnapping describes the wrongful removal or retention of a child by a parent. Because child kidnappings are frequently committed by other family members, the term family abduction more accurately describes such action. Both terms are used interchangeably in this book. Both have civil and criminal meanings.When a parental kidnapping occurs the government may pursue criminal process against the abductor if a criminal law has been violated. Law enforcement and prosecutors are part of the criminal-justice system. The left-behind parent may pursue civil remedies to prevent an abduction or recover a wrong-fully removed or wrongfully retained child. The left-behind parent’s lawyer and the family court are part of the civil-justice system. It is important to understand both criminal and civil remedies can be pursued when an abduction occurs. The decision to pursue civil remedies is up to the parent, whereas the prosecutor ultimately has discretion whether to pursue criminal process.This guide covers civil and criminal remedies in parental kidnapping cases.It navigates parents and attorneys through the criminal- and civil-justice systems’ responses to parental kidnapping. It describes actions parents can take and laws that may be helpful when their children are the victims of family abduction. It also explains how to prevent abductions.Parents should take this book with them when they meet with their attorneys, law enforcement, prosecutors, and family-court personnel, many of whom may be handling a family-abduction case for the first time.

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