Like many of our country's laws and regulations, the Uniform Child Abduction Act, passed in 2006, does not have a lot of "teeth" in it. It was passed more than 25 years after the first Congressional Act dealing with parental kidnapping, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which was passed in 1980 in response to the growing number of parental kidnappings coming to the attention of courts and law enforcement nationwide.
This type of kidnapping forms the basis of the great majority of the activity of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the well-respected and effective organization co-founded by John Walsh, who undertook his continuing advocacy after his son Adam was kidnapped and murdered in Florida in 1981. Every parent's nightmare, that their child will be seized by a crazed murderer at a mall (as happened to Adam), has happened only 115 times since the Center began keeping statistics. In contrast, between 1,000 and 2,000 children are parentally-kidnapped each DAY in the United States. The problem is so widespread that the Hague Convention dealt with it, and it represents a significant area of international law and concern, as many children who are kidnapped by one parent are not just taken across state lines, they are taken to foreign countries without anyone's permission. Law enforcement in local jurisdictions and nationally have struggled for years to develop strategies to deal with this pervasive problem.
Of the children who are parentally-kidnapped in the United States, the overwhelming majority are recovered. Since the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children began keeping statistics, they have received over 140,000 reports of parentally-abducted children, and more than 130,000 children have been recovered. Over an approximate 20-year period, that means that about 500 children are abducted each year in the United States, and are NOT recovered. However, this statistic only refers to the serious cases that are referred to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for assistance by law enforcement. Overall, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that over 780,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States - among them runaways, parentally-abducted children and sexually-exploited children. This problem is not limited to the United States - it occurs worldwide. Australia, for example, has one of the highest per-capita rates of such abductions. This is a video about an Australian mother who had to re-kidnap her children from an ex-husband who snatched them and took them to Beirut, and another mother, who after 14 years, recovered her daughter from Indonesia. "Often the children are not told what is going on," commented one estranged parent. "The children who have been abducted once or twice grow up not trusting anyone," said a counselor who has worked with these children. "When you're lied to over and over at a young age by your parent, who can you trust?"
In studies of the traumatic effects of parentally-kidnapped and recovered children, a shocking percentage of the children are physically and mentally abused. In my view, the number who are abused by these acts is 100%, because the very act is by its very nature, highly-abusive toward the child. Many authorities cite rising divorce rates as the cause of the rise in parental abductions, with some extreme advocates suggesting that the only solution is to unilaterally award full custody of the child in cases of divorce to the mother, thereby abrogating any type of custody "dispute." In my opinion, such a situation would only cause father-initiated abductions to rise dramatically.
Here is a link to some of the success stories of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. One teenaged girl missing for three years was located after being arrested in another state and giving a false name. Another little girl from Colorado was rescued after being left by noncustodial, kidnapping parents at an acqaintance's home in Texas. That is probably the most typical result - in at least 60% of the cases, the parental or related kidnapper dumps the child with relatives, "friends" or even acquaintances, as their interest was never for the child's welfare at any point -- merely their own, discarded when care for the child becomes inconvenient. Child kidnappers also have few community ties to begin with, and rely upon gullible or easily-persuaded strangers to assist them in order to continue to perpetrate their lies or continue their unlawful activities.
I just came across this heartwrenching essay by Prof. Stephen Baskerville. I don't know if his children were located or not. I hope that they have been.