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Parental child abduction: Is your child at risk?

When you picture a kidnapper, you may imagine a stranger lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on an unattended child. In actuality, many of today’s child abductors are, in fact, people the child knows. According to the Polly Klaas Foundation, family members kidnap more than 200,000 children every year in the United States, which is a higher figure than the number of children abducted by strangers.

There are several different reasons parents abduct their own children. While every situation is different, many familial abductions share certain elements in common.

Why parents abduct their own kids

In some cases, parents abduct their own children because they do not have time-sharing or visitation rights, or because they suspect that they will soon lose their time-sharing or visitation rights. In others, parents abduct their own children to essentially force interactions with the child’s other parent.

In other scenarios, yet, some parents kidnap their own children simply to anger, frighten or spite the child’s other parent. Additionally, while rare, some parental abductions take place because one parent believes a child is experiencing some form of abuse while in the other parent’s care.

Is your child at risk?

If your relationship with your child’s other parent is particularly acrimonious, you may have valid concerns about your son or daughter’s other parent potentially trying to abduct him or her. If you believe your child may be in danger, you can look for certain signs to get a better sense of how much he or she is at risk.

If your child’s other parent has made threats regarding abduction, always take these threats seriously. If your child’s other parent hails from another country and you have ended your marriage with this person, this could potentially elevate your child’s abduction threat. If the other parent also lacks ties to your geographic area, meaning he or she has no job, family or what have you in the area, this, too, could signify trouble ahead.

If you have concerns about parental abduction, you may want to consider securing a court order preventing your child from leaving the United States. You may also want to notify his or her school, daycare, athletic coaches and so on so they can help protect your child.

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Schipani and Norman, P.A.
1605 Main Street, Suite 1110
Sarasota, FL 34236

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