International child abduction happens for a number of reasons. The scariest ones involve human trafficking or happen because someone has ill intent. Every child abduction, however, is scary to the parents involved and especially to the kids.
International child abduction happens routinely in over 80 countries and many investigation offices have cases open in all of them.
Child Abduction Facts
What is becoming problematic in these statistics is the increase that is occurring in the area of parental child abductions. Over the past 10 years, parental abductions have risen by 88%. It is feared that most cases don’t ever get reported as parents seek to gain full custody of their kidnapped children through international courts, so these statistics, while alarming, are likely just a fraction of the events that happen every year.
- 1 out of every 4 parents in a recent survey stated that they did not think it was a crime to take their child to another country without the other parent’s permission.
- According to survey data, 74% of parents believe that it is the father who will kidnap a child, but it is the mother who does so in 7 out of every 10 cases.
- When international child abduction occurs and the child is taken to a country that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention, it is virtually impossible to return the child home.
- The total number of child abduction cases has risen by 47% over the last 10 years and although 71% of parents believe that the kids are going to the Middle East or Pakistan, any country can become a refuge for a kidnapper on the run.
It is the disturbing cases of international child abduction that make the news, so many in the public don’t see this as an issue because there aren’t many instances that hit the wire. Parents are abducting their children every day from the other parent. It could be because of a divorce, there could be financial reasons, or there may be mental health issues with which to contend. What needs to happen to start getting these parental abductions to begin lowering is to get parents to think twice. Is a child at risk? Would taking them to a new country make them any safer?
Where Are Parents Taking Their Kids After An Abduction?
- According to the 2013 closed case data, Mexico is by far the most popular designation of kidnappers as over 460 outgoing cases were closed, with 58 ordering a return through a Hague proceeding.
- Out of the 1,250 outgoing total cases closed in the US in 2013, Hague proceedings had a 50/50 ratio for either returning the child or denying a return.
- 33% of the total cases closed showed a voluntary return of the child from one parent to the other parent once an official case was opened.
- There were 487 incoming closed by US offices as well in 2013, with about 25% of them again having Mexico as the country of origin.
- Incoming cases had a 50% greater chance of ending in the return of a child through a Hague proceeding.
- Only 1 in 4 cases that were closed happened because of a voluntary return.
Many parents take their child to a non-Hague country in order to prevent having these proceedings from occurring, but the reality is that for the most part, there’s a 50/50 chance that the Hague will order a denial for a return anyway and let the child stay with the kidnapper. There’s actually a worse chance through domestic proceedings for a court to order a child to stay as the US only registered 10 total court orders for a denial of a child’s return. Now this information only includes information that was directly reported to government offices, of course, so not every denial is going to be logged. Still – the data is pretty overwhelming. A child who is kidnapped by a parent may get to stay with that parent no matter what.
Child Abduction Rates Aren’t Climbing Everywhere
- In the US, international child abduction rates have lowered by 38% over the last 4 years.
- The outbound cases of international child abductions that have been reported to the US government lowered by 12% from 2012 to 2013, despite average growth rates that are estimated to be 20%
- There have been 600 fewer children involved in international child abduction cases when compared to 2009 data.
- The average international child abduction event involves just one child.
- The total number of children involved in US reported cases has dropped by 12% annually for the last two years.
- In the United States, the total amount of time it takes to litigate the average international child kidnapping case is 338 days.
Why is it so difficult for a child to be returned home? The harsh reality is that Hague proceedings often take place in front of judges who have never heard an international child abduction case before. It has also become possible to negotiate delays in the proceedings that fall outside the aspects of the original convention and there are several nations, including Germany, who don’t really comply with the true letter of the agreement. Large nations, such as China, have not even signed the convention. When the chasing parents are the ones that must bear most of the burden for the child’s recovery and must hire expensive lawyers to navigate the complex legal system, it is no wonder why so many of them end up just giving up.
What Is Working?
- Blogging about this problem has greatly raised the awareness of it.
- With parents becoming more proactive in protecting their children, rates are clearly lowering.
- Some countries have instituted passport alert systems to prevent international travel occurring after a case has been reported.
- Many judges are acting with more prudence in cases that are being heard during parental separation to prevent this from happening.
Prevention is working in some areas, but not in others, so today is the day to act. Kids don’t need to be scared of their parents. They deserve a good home that protects them and together, with increased awareness, we can all make that happen.