Despite regular warnings of stranger danger, the vast majority of child abductions involve trusted individuals, including the child’s own parents. Angry about undesirable custody outcomes or simply keen to exact vengeance on an ex, parents may assume they have the right to disappear with their child. The following statistics shine a terrifying light on the prevalence of abduction in divorce, and how it can affect children years down the road:
Prevalence of Family Kidnappings
Experts divide abduction into three distinct categories: crimes perpetrated by a close family member, an acquaintance or a complete stranger. The first category accounts for 49 percent of abductions. The vast majority of family kidnappings involve parents.
Reluctance to Rely on Authorities
Despite abduction proving a traumatic ordeal, most parents prefer to keep the matter quiet and avoid interaction with law enforcement officials. Just one in four cases are reported in hopes of obtaining assistance in finding kids; often, these reports are significantly delayed.
The good news in a terrifying situation: nearly half of abducted children in parental kidnappings are returned to the custodial parent within a week. The kidnapped child remains missing for a full moth in just 21 percent of abductions.
In 25 percent of parental abduction cases, the offending parent carries out the crime with the help of another adult—often a close friend or new romantic partner.
Mental Health Problems in Kidnapping Victims
Despite traveling with a parent, kidnapping victims suffer extensive emotional—and sometimes physical—trauma. The Parental Abduction Training and Dissemination Project explains, “Many children are told the other parent is dead or no longer loves them.”
Nearly half of kidnapping victims suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, and many also suffer depression upon their return. Although these effects are more prominent among victims of stranger abductions, mental health issues also strike children kidnapped by their parents.
Few children abducted by parents face physical harm, and most are returned within a month. This doesn’t make the ordeal any less traumatic for the affected child and custodial parent. If you suspect your ex has abducted your child, it is imperative that you alert law enforcement officials and seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
Concerned about the potential for child abduction in your divorce? Contact DiPietro Family Law Group now. We can help you through your current situation and ensure a favorable outcome.