Parental kidnapping is “the concealment, taking, or retention of a child by his parent in violation of the rights of the child’s other parent or another family member.” Violated rights include custody and visitation rights of the other parent.
Every year, parents abduct thousands of children in the United States.
Sometimes a child is abducted from a custodial parent abroad and transported illegally into the United States.
Kidnapping sometimes started as a custody dispute that escalates into a crime, with long-term and widespread impacts.Sometimes kidnapping seem a last resort by a parent fearful of abuse, or an international move by the other parent, or even an unfavorable custody dispute playing out in the courts. Working within the family court system to resolve custody disputes is preferable for the well being of everyone.
Kidnapped children live as fugitives. Sometimes they take a new identity – a new name, nickname, haircut, and dyed hair, glasses. Children may be coached not to reveal their true names, birth dates, home states and addresses, and other identifying information. Kidnapping traumatizes the children emotionally and psychologically, especially if the kidnapping parent convinces the child that the other parent has abandoned them. Abducted children become innocent victims of a parent’s selfish decisions and actions. Their relationships with other family members, perhaps even siblings and grandparents, are terminated, and their sense of family, belonging, and identity is compromised, if not lost entirely in the process.