Definition and Incidence
Parental abduction of a child occurs when a member of the child’s family, or someone acting on behalf of a family member, takes action to deprive a parent of his/her lawful rights to have custody of or access to the child. Also referred to as ‘‘custodial interference’’ or ‘‘parental kidnapping,’’ it includes attempts to remove, conceal, or refuse to return the child. Violations of court orders for custody and visitation, not uncommon between disputing separating and divorced parents, are not viewed as parental abduction unless they involve an indefinite or permanent effort to deny a parent’s access to the child without good cause.
Parental abduction has become a serious concern in the United States and in many other Western nations. The second National Incidence Study of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children (NISMART II) estimated that in 1999 approximately 203,900 children were abducted by family members in the United States. By contrast, abductions by strangers during that year involved only 115 children but resulted in relatively extensive media coverage and public concern (see Sedlak et al. 2002).
Abductors are generally one of the child’s parents but could also be grandparents, stepparents, or other relatives. Studies have shown that fathers are more likely to kidnap their children, although studies have also shown that mothers are almost as likely to do so. Boys and girls are equally likely to experience family abduction. Young preschool children are more likely to be abducted by a parent, perhaps because they are less able to verbally protest or resist, easier to transport and conceal, and are unable to tell others their history. Abduction of older children by a parent usually requires their participation and assent. The threat or use of force is relatively uncommon in abductions by a family member. Most parentally abducted children are recovered or returned relatively quickly, within the first few weeks or even within days. The large majority of the cases (more than three-fourths) are resolved within one to two months; only a small proportion of parentally abducted children may be gone for six months or more, and it is relatively rare that a child is never recovered (see Hammer, Finkelhor, and Sedlak 2002 for further demographic descriptors).
The emerging problem of parental abduction of children needs to be considered in the context of society’s definition of who owns the child, the changing nature of the modern family, and gender roles. Historically, dating back to Roman times, and expressly incorporated within English common law, the doctrine of patriae potestas gave the father authority over his children. This legal doctrine was imported to the American colonies, where the presumption of paternal custody prevailed until the early part of the twentieth century. During this period, to some extent both women and children were viewed as men’s property, and in this sense the male had the primary right to control and make decisions for his family. During the first half of the twentieth century, custody preferences changed to the ‘‘tender years doctrine,’’ at which time society explicitly acknowledged mothers’ primary role as birth parent and caretaker in the early years, bolstered by new psychological theories that stressed the vital importance of protecting the young child’s emotional attachment to his or her primary caregiver.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Women’s Rights movement, an outgrowth of the Civil Rights movement, called for gender equality and helped set in motion both intended and unintended consequences for the family. Coincident upon the introduction of ‘‘no fault’’ divorce and equal division of property laws in the early 1970s, the ‘‘best interests of the child’’ legal principle was adopted by United States courts to decide who should have custody after parents separated, so that for the first time in history there was no gender preference for the custody of children. Subsequently, during the next two decades (1970–1989), divorce rates doubled and stabilized at the rate of about four of every ten marriages with children. In addition, the number of women bearing children out of wedlock increased substantially. As a result, by the latter half of the twentieth century, almost six in every ten children experienced living in a single parent home, for at least part of their growing-up years. An increasing number of mothers entered the workforce, and fathers assumed a greater role in their children’s upbringing. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, at the same time that joint custody or shared parental caretaking became more widespread, divorced and never-married parents were increasingly geographically mobile. Consequently, when parents separate, the custody of their children tends to be ‘‘up for grabs’’—that is, fit is more likely to be disputed. Whereas most custody-disputing parents appeal to the family courts to resolve their differences with one another, some individuals take the law into their own hands and kidnap their children (see Forst and Blomquist 1991 for further discussion).
Parental Abduction and Family Violence
What motivates some parents to abduct their children? Early explanations tended to focus on the nature of the conflict between spouses around the time of separation, noting that parental abductors may have a desire to blame, spite, or punish the other parent for leaving or may be trying to effect reconciliation. Others may be fearful of losing custody of their child and having a diminished role in the child’s life. Subsequent studies have found that family violence plays a large role in parental abductions (Grief and Hegar 1993; Johnston, Girdner, and Sagatun-Edwards 1999). Whereas for some parents— usually fathers—kidnapping their children is a manifestation of their ongoing attempts to wield control and power over spouses who are trying to leave abusive relationships, for other parents— usually mothers—fleeing with and hiding their children is an attempt to protect the children from left-behind parents who are perceived to be molesting, abusive, or neglectful. In the aftermath of a failed marriage, however, which of these scenarios is true is often unclear and vigorously contested in counter-allegations to authorities and in family courts.
Domestic violence and substance abuse—more often perpetrated by the male partner—are alleged to have occurred in two-thirds to three-quarters of families where children are subsequently abducted by a parent. In the majority of these cases there is some evidence to back up these claims. Allegations of child abuse occur in one-third to two-thirds of abducting families. Whereas allegations of child sexual abuse—primarily against fathers—are often unable to be substantiated, allegations of child neglect and endangerment—more often made against mothers—are substantiated in about one-fourth to one-half of the cases. Many of these concerned parents had sought the help of family courts and child protective services to protect their children; however, the response from these authorities was perceived to be too often inadequate and inconsistent. From the parents’ viewpoint, counselors in the family and juvenile courts were often dismissive of their concerns, failed to thoroughly investigate their claims, and did not follow up or monitor the potentially unstable and neglectful environments to which their children were exposed. This either motivated them to ‘‘take the law into their own hands’’ and steal their children or resulted in the children becoming victims of abduction by the abusive parent (see Greif and Hegar 1993 and Johnston et al. 1999 for further details).
The study by Johnston et al. (1999) also found that abducting parents, compared with parents litigating custody, are more likely to have narcissistic and psychopathic personality traits wherein they feel entitled to flaunt the authority of the courts and law enforcement, exploit and control others with impunity, and do whatever they believe is best for the child, without consideration of the other parent’s rights or feelings. Consistent with these attitudes, it has been found that these individuals are more likely to have prior arrests and convictions for other criminal offenses. This may also help explain why they do not expect the family courts to be sympathetic if they pursue their quest for custody through legal means. In a small number of cases, abducting parents are severely mentally ill, suffering from paranoid delusions and other thought disorders whereby they are convinced that the children’s other parent, associates, and the legal system are conspiring against them. All of these parents who have severe personality and psychotic disorders are of relatively great risk to the children they abduct.
Other Factors Associated with Parental Abduction
Other indicators of risk for parental abduction need to be considered. Johnston et al. (1999) found that both abducting and left-behind parents, particularly women, are predominantly of low socioeconomic status, are more likely to be unemployed, have low incomes, have few occupational skills, and were poorly educated. They cannot afford neither the legal counsel that would help guide them through the courts nor consultation with mental health professionals to advise them on their family problems or help substantiate their claims for custody. Their difficulties are compounded if they are of cultural minority status, noncitizens, and not able to speak the language. Furthermore, a proportion of abducting parents are never-married women who do not consider that the biological fathers of their children have any rights to custody or visitation.
In all of these cases, distressed parents, who are dealing with a marital or relationship breakup and/ or trying to rescue themselves or their children from abusive family situations, tend to turn to their own families and informal social networks for support and help rather than rely upon formal agents like child protective services, police, and courts. Their informal networks often share more traditional views about gender roles that favor the custody of mothers and their extended families, or conversely, hold fundamentalist religious convictions about male authority and ownership of the child (in contradiction to prevailing custody laws that are gender neutral). In some cases, the abductor is given substantial assistance from cult-like groups or an underground dissident movement that provides not only practical assistance (food, money, and a place to hide) but also moral support to validate the abducting parent’s actions. For this reason, many family abductors do not consider their actions to be wrong and are often surprised to find that they are illegal.
Parents who are citizens of another country (or have dual citizenship with the United States) may abduct their children following separation and divorce, particularly if they have strong, idealized ties to their extended families in their homeland, deprecate American culture, and categorically reject the other parent as important to the child. When these parents feel cast adrift from their mixed-culture marriage, they may turn to their ethnic or religious roots to find emotional support and reconstitute a shaken self-identity. Often, in reaction to feeling helpless and rejected or discarded by the ex-spouse, such a parent may return to his/her homeland with the child as a way of insisting that the homeland cultural identity be given preeminent status in the child’s upbringing. Further, the family-of-origin may offer much needed financial support as well as a warm welcome home, in contrast to that provided by the left-behind parent.
Risk Factors and Preventive Measures
Indicators of risk for parental abduction exist in those separating/divorcing families with young children in which there have already been allegations of family violence—especially where a parent and her associates suspect or allege child abuse that has not been perceived, taken seriously, or properly investigated by authorities. There is also a heightened risk where one parent with a severe psychopathic or paranoid personality dismisses or denies the other parent’s value to the child, uses the child as a weapon to punish a spouse who is trying to leave, or has paranoid delusions that he/she and the child are being persecuted by the left-behind parent. The risk may be increased where parents belong to cultural, ethnic, religious, or cult-like groups, or countries that hold strongly to different values about child-rearing, gender roles, and family compared with mainstream Western society; and where distressed parents, by virtue of their marginal social status and limited resources, feel alienated and disenfranchised from courts, mental health counselors, and social agencies that could ordinarily provide them some relief.
Imminent sign of an abduction is when a separating or divorced parent having the above characteristics makes credible threats to abduct, having already a history of hiding the child, withholding visitation, or snatching the child from the other parent. Furthermore, such a parent may be planning an abduction when he or she has no financial, occupational, or emotional ties to the geographic area, has resources to survive in hiding (like liquidated assets), or help from others to remain hidden from the left-behind parent or law enforcement.
To counter the threat of parental abduction, preventive measures may be sought from the family court, including: a detailed custody order designating which court has jurisdiction and specifying all parent–child access arrangements (times, dates, place of exchange, holiday periods); restricting travel outside the area with the child, requiring a bond to be posted if the child accompanies the potential abductor on vacations outside the area; placing a hold on the child’s passport, birth certificate, and school and medical records, which may not be released without the written consent of both parents; or permitting visitation with the child only under the supervision of a third party. More restrictive measures are warranted when the risk of abduction is particularly high, when obstacles to locating and recovering the child are likely to be great, and when the child faces substantial harm from the abducting parent (see Johnston and Girdner 2001 for further preventive measures).
Effects on Victims
It is a commonly held myth that parental abduction is not consequential because a parent is unlikely to harm a child and that being kidnapped by a family member is not likely to be a stressful or traumatic event compared with stranger abduction. In fact the repercussions of parental abduction for children and their families vary greatly depending upon the circumstances of the case. It ranges from being fairly benign, where young children are located rapidly, cared for well, and voluntarily returned by the abducting parent, to having severe and long-lasting consequences, where children are physically, sexually, or emotionally abused or exposed to neglectful or violent environments by the abductor.
For the family left behind, searching for an abducted child is not only frustrating, but financially draining and emotionally exhausting. A study by Christopher Hatcher and associates in 1992 found that left-behind parents typically expend their resources, including borrowed funds, to hire attorneys and private investigators and to travel in search of their children. The researchers also found that the majority of parents and other family members of missing children experience substantial emotional distress as a result of the disappearance. Compared with the general population, their level of distress equals or exceeds the emotional distress of other groups of individuals exposed to trauma, such as military combatants and victims of violent crime.
Children appear to be most adversely affected when lengthy concealment is involved, when they are abducted by a psychologically disturbed or violent parent, and when they have been subjected directly to abuse by the abductor. For this reason, it should not be assumed that children are safe just because they are with a parent. Greif and Hegar (1993) found that almost 25 percent of the abducted children interviewed in their study had suffered physical abuse by the abducting parent, while 7 percent were sexually abused. Loss and trauma are also experienced when children are taken from a secure relationship with a primary parent by an abductor who tells negative stories such that they believe that they are no longer loved or wanted by the absent parent. Being in hiding or constantly on the run to elude authorities and having their identities changed is particularly disruptive to their healthy development.
Further trauma can occur to children as a result of some of the dramatic measures taken to locate and recover them—like being snatched back by a private investigator, apprehended by law enforcement, and placed in a children’s shelter or foster care while their case is litigated in family or juvenile court. Their recovery and return home may not be a welcome rescue when it results in the sudden loss of the abducting parent on whom they feel entirely dependent and their precipitous transfer to the custody of the left-behind parent, whom they may not remember or may no longer trust. Those who have been indoctrinated with negative beliefs about the other parent can experience grief and rage such that they may strongly identify with one parent and reject the other.
The aftermath of the abduction, when children are recovered, does not necessarily signal relief for the child or the family. Often, a child is left upset and torn between the abducting parent and the custodial parent and the entire family is left to pick up the pieces of the life they once had with the child. Unlike in stranger abduction, the child can have feelings of love and longing for the abducting parent, which can be difficult for the custodial parent to hear, thereby putting a strain between the left-behind parent and the child. Indications of children’s distress include anxiety and fright, nightmares, sleeping problems, clinging, and irritability. Regression disorders where a child reverts to behaviors inappropriate for his/her age (e.g., bed-wetting, thumb sucking) are not uncommon following the child’s return home, along with behavior difficulties, declining grades, and health problems (Greif and Hegar 1993).
A review of studies by Nancy Faulkner (1999) concluded that the legacy of abductions is often an attachment disorder, where children are unable to develop a meaningful, healthy relationship with their left-behind parent after being reunited with him/her. Depression is also a common feature in these children. They may feel unable to trust anyone because they have lost stability in their lives and often feel angry, frightened, and abandoned. Moreover, even young children can be burdened by guilt, where they feel in some manner at fault for the abduction and secretly worry that they should have resisted being taken or found their way home. It is important also to recognize that these children are often lied to by their abducting parent and can be burdened with inculcated ideas of distrust, loneliness, and hostility regarding their family situations.
Long-term consequences have been explored by one researcher, Geoffrey Greif (2000), who followed up on his earlier study by interviewing the parents of teenagers and young adults who had been parentally abducted as children (Greif and Hegar 1993). Significant emotional and physical problems were observed by parents in more than two-fifths of the sample of youth—a minority, but hardly a small percentage. Greif (2000) also found that of those still having problems, many continued with therapy ten years after the parental abduction occurred. Parents reported that their teenage and young adult children were sometimes self-destructive and had a number of difficulties in their home, personal, and school lives. In 2003 Greif (2003) interviewed in depth a small group of adults who had been parentally abducted as children. He noted that the adults’ relationship with both of their parents remained greatly ambivalent, as was their stance toward marriage and child-rearing. Feelings of loss and guilt, conflicts with siblings, and confusion about the use of their birth name upon recovery also continued to haunt these individuals. It is not known towhat extent the experiences of the relatively small number of individuals who participated in these studies are representative of the larger population of adults who were abducted as children. Further, more extensive research needs to be undertaken on short- and long-term outcomes for children and their parents.
In general, policymakers and researchers have argued that parental abduction constitutes more than the violation of parents’ civil rights to have access to their children. Rather, because of the serious emotional problems that may result, parental abduction of children should be regarded as a form of child abuse in and of itself. In response, many laws and policies have been put in place to combat this type of abduction; however the justice system has a long way to go in implementing these laws in order to curtail and hopefully prevent the problem.
Justice System’s Response to Parental Abduction
Before 1968, state laws governed all marriage, divorce, and custody matters, and any state could make or modify decisions about child custody based on the child’s presence in the state. This led to ‘‘forum shopping,’’ where some divorcing parents fled with the child to a state that appeared to favor their situation. Multiple, conflicting court orders could be issued from different states, with little or no willingness of law enforcement or courts in one state to enforce another state’s orders. To address this problem, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) gave jurisdiction of the matter to the ‘‘home’’ state (defined as where the child had lived for the last six months prior to the court action, or where the child had significant connections to family, school, and community). All fifty states and the District of Columbia adopted versions of this act.
The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), passed by Congress in 1980, acts as a ‘‘tie-breaker’’ when two or more states claim to be the ‘‘home’’ state. It also authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to assist in locating and recovering children who are believed to have been taken across state lines. This means that in the United States, whenever there is a custody dispute between parents that involves different counties or states, the first order of business is to decide which court has the authority to hear the matter and make decisions for the family according to the ‘‘best interests of the child’’ principle. Once the court with continuing jurisdiction over the matter is determined, other courts in other counties or states are bound to enforce and not modify any orders that are made.
Essentially the same remedy at the international level, when children are transported across national borders, is provided by the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (signed by the United States in 1980 and ratified in 1988) and the federal statute that implements it (the International Child Abduction Remedies Act [ICARA]). That is, the Hague Convention is a reciprocal agreement between countries that identifies the ‘‘home country’’ which has jurisdiction in child custody matters and mandates the prompt return of parentally abducted or wrongfully retained children to their ‘‘habitual residence’’ in order for all decisions to be made about custody and visitation issues. Unfortunately, not all countries are signatories to the Hague treaty, especially those that are hostile to U.S. and European cultures, customs, and foreign policy (e.g., some countries in the Middle East). Furthermore, although a country may have adopted the Hague Convention, it may not have assigned the resources to a designated central authority to implement the treaty.
All of the laws cited herein treat parental abduction as a civil law violation rather than a criminal act. As early as the 1970s, frustrated left-behind parents urged lawmakers to treat parental abductions as serious crimes rather than private domestic disputes. During these early years, there was little or no awareness that family violence is a typical problem in abducting families, nor was it acknowledged that because of its detrimental effects on children, parental abduction may be a form of child abuse in and of itself. In fact, there was great reluctance to criminalize parental child stealing because it was argued that the new statutes would stigmatize and punish parents, resulting in more harm than good as essentially law-abiding parents were indicted and sent to jail or prison for seemingly no good reason. Eventually the advocates for criminalization were successful, and during the 1980s every state passed laws making parental child abduction a felony, carrying various penalties. In addition, the International Parental Kidnapping Act of 1993 made it a federal felony, punishable by up to three years in prison, to remove a child unlawfully from the United States. The Extradition Treaties Interpretation Act of 1998 is the basis for extraditing alleged abductors to the ‘‘home’’ country for criminal court proceedings.
During the last decade of the twentieth century, the movement to protect the victims of domestic violence spread across the country, gaining political momentum and resulting in the passing of federal legislation in 1994, specifically the Violence against Women Act (VAWA). This act provided for interstate enforcement of protective orders for domestic violence victims, along with many other provisions. Hence victims were on one hand being given explicit permission and protection to flee their abusers, including across state lines, but these rights and protections were potentially in conflict with criminal abduction/custodial interference statutes, whereby in some cases victims could be prosecuted for fleeing and hiding with their children.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) of 1997 helped resolve these anomalies, allowing victims these protections in emergency situations, provided their living arrangements were subsequently approved by the family courts. Also, this version of the act helped clear up other ambiguities in the previous statutes, like those that allowed parents to litigate excessively over which state was the ‘‘home’’ state and under what conditions another state could issue emergency orders. It also provided enforcement mechanisms for the act. Specifically, it authorized public officials (e.g., the district attorney) to assist in the recovery of the child and to provide the left-behind parent with legal assistance, in addition to their other responsibilities for prosecuting offenders. Subsequently, as of this writing, most states have adopted or are in the process of adopting the UCCJEA (see Hoff 2001 for a further discussion of these laws).
Congress has also enacted several laws relating to missing children that may apply to parentally abducted children, such as the Missing Children’s Act of 1982 and the National Child Search Assistance Act of 1990. Among other provisions, these acts allow all missing children to be registered without any waiting period in a central national database at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that can be accessed throughout the country by local law enforcement. With more sustained federal funding, the NCMEC has become the leading national organization offering assistance to local law enforcement and families affected by parental abductions, as well as providing a wide array of educational resources to the concerned public. All states now also have missing children’s clearinghouses, although it appears that they are not used as extensively as the NCMEC. Furthermore, the AMBER [America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response] alert system was developed in 1996 to assist law enforcement in coordinating and implementing emergency responses to children abductions in which the child is deemed to be in danger of serious injury, by broadcasting information to the public. All of these measures have been successful in the earlier recovery of parentally abducted children. However, it should be noted that not all parentally abducted children are missing. In almost one-half of the cases in the NISMART II study, the left-behind parent knew where the child was located and with whom the child was living but was having difficulty getting the child returned (Hammer et al. 2002). Furthermore, not all abducted children are perceived to be in serious danger, so an AMBER alert may not be issued for them.
At the local level, a number of private nonprofit organizations have sprung up throughout the United States to assist parents directly in locating and reuniting with their missing children; such organizations work in close cooperation with state and federal law enforcement and with the NCMEC. These include, among others, organizations like the Vanished Children’s Alliance in California, Child Find of America Inc. in New York, and Operation Lookout in Washington State. Many of these grassroots organizations were formed in response to specific high-profile cases of child abduction and the extensive media response and public support the matter generated. They also identify much-needed gaps in services, lobby for legislation, advocate for victims, and provide education and prevention to the public, as well as offering technical assistance to law enforcement and other community agencies.
Despite all of these developments in law, community services, and legal protections, the criminal justice system pays relatively scant attention to the crime of parental abduction. Although NISMART II estimated that more than 200,000 children are abducted annually and more than one-half of these are reported to authorities, a national study by Kathi Grasso et al. (2001) showed that only about 30,500 police reports were officially registered, and only 3,500 charges were filed by prosecutors, half of which resulted in a criminal conviction. The justice system responded more harshly in those cases where there were clear violations of existing custody orders and where child endangerment was clearly indicated. This suggests that less than 1 percent of parent-abductors are convicted of the crime and punished. Instead, the large majority of cases are dealt with privately, without legal assistance, or settled in family courts as civil matters. Most, if not all, prosecutors believe that criminal prosecution is not in the child’s or family’s interest and that the most important priority is to recover the child safely and expeditiously.
There are many obstacles to the recovery of parentally abducted children and even more obstacles to the prevention of parental abduction in the first place. All of the laws and policies regarding this matter were made in efforts to assist families and the criminal justice system to combat parental abduction. However, attitudes that parental abduction is not a serious problem and is a private family matter persist and continue to affect the priorities given to this type of crime compared with other crimes. The relative invisibility of the extent of this problem in the justice system has led it to be seen as a specialist area of practice; consequently, most legal and mental health professionals and community agencies do not devote sufficient resources to training regarding relevant issues and implementation of relevant policies. It is important for the justice system and the general public, especially high-risk populations, to be better educated about parental abduction. Ongoing training and refresher courses are essential in order for police officers, attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and mental health professionals, as well as divorcing parents, to be better acquainted with the relevant laws. Court administrators need to put protocols and procedures in place for expeditiously handling these cases, and coordination between jurisdictions, states, and countries is essential. Finally, it is also important to develop and implement risk management assessment tools and strategies in order to forestall and prevent parental abduction of children (see articles by Girdner and Hoff 1994; Grasso et al. 2001; Johnston and Girdner 2001).
- Faulkner, Nancy. ‘‘Parent Child Abduction Is Child Abuse.’’ Paper presented to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights, June 1999. www.prevent-abusenow.com/unreport.htm.
- Forst, Martin L., and Martha-Elin Blomquist. Missing Children: Rhetoric and Reality. New York: Lexington Press, 1991.
- Girdner, Linda, and Patricia Hoff. Obstacles to the Recovery and Return of Parentally Abducted Children: Research Summary. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1994.
- Grasso, Kathi L., Andrea J. Sedlak, Janet L. Chiancone, Frances Gragg, Dana Schultz, and Joseph F. Ryan. ‘‘The Criminal Justice System’s Response to Parental Abduction.’’ Bulletin. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, December 2001.
- ———. ‘‘A Parental Report on the Long-term Consequences for Children of Abduction by the Other Parent.’’ Child Psychiatry and Human Development 31 (2000): 59–78.
- Greif, Geoffrey L. ‘‘Treatment Implications for Adults Who Were Parentally Abducted When Young.’’ Family Therapy 30, no. 3 (2002): 151–165.
- Greif, Geoffrey L., and Rebecca L. Hegar. When Parents Kidnap: The Families Behind the Headlines. New York: Free Press, 1993.
- Hammer, Heather, David Finkelhor, and Andrea J. Sedlak. ‘‘NISMART: Children Abducted by Family Members: National Estimates and Characteristics.’’ Second National Incidence Study of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART). U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, October 2002.
- Hatcher, Christopher, C. Barton, and L. Brooks. ‘‘Families of Missing Children. Final Report.’’ Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1992.
- Hoff, Patricia M.‘‘The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.’’ Bulletin. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, December 2001.
- Johnston, Janet R., and Linda Girdner. ‘‘Family Abductors: Descriptive Profiles and Preventive Interventions.’’ Bulletin. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, January 2001.
- Johnston, Janet R., Linda K. Girdner, and Inger Sagatun- Edwards. ‘‘Developing Profiles of Risk for Parental Abduction of Children from a Comparison of Families Victimized by Abduction with Families Litigating Custody.’’ Behavioral Sciences and the Law 17, no. 3 (1999): 305–322.
- Sedlak, Andrea J., David Finkelhor, Heather Hammer, and Dana J. Schultz. ‘‘National Estimates of Missing Children: An Overview.’’ Second National Incidence Study of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART). U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, October 2002.
- Extradition Treaties Interpretation Act of 1998 Title II, Public Law 105-323. Federal Register 64, no. 15 (January 25, 1999): 3735–3736.
- Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, ratified in 1986, adopted by the United States in 1988.
- International Child Abduction Remedies Act of 1988 (42 U.S.C. § 11601 et seq.).
- International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (18 U.S.C. § 1204).
- Missing Children’s Act of 1982 (28 U.S.C. § 534(a)).
- National Child Search Assistance Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. § 5780).
- Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 (28 U.S.C. § 1738A).
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act of 1968, 9(1A) U.L.A. 271 (1999).
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (1997), 9(IA) U.L.A. 657 (1999).
- Violence against Women Act of 1994; Violence against Women Act of 2000, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2265, 2266.