Parental Child Abduction: The Long-Term Effects

“This small-scale qualitative study was undertaken to investigate the lived experiences of those who were abducted many years earlier. The aim was to learn whether, and how, in the views of the participants, these abductions had affected their lives, and whether such effects had continued long-term. The study is based on personal interviews undertaken by the principal investigator with 34 participants including three sets of abducted children and one set of an abducted child and non-abducted sibling.

The interviews took place principally in England and the USA in 2011–2012, with an opportunity for updating by email provided in 2014. The study found that a high proportion of the participants reported suffering very significant effects from their abductions in terms of their mental health, and that these effects were ongoing into their adult lives very many years after the abduction. These findings tend, therefore, to support those from earlier studies about the long-lasting effects of abduction which are emphasised in this project by the direct reporting of the abducted children, as adults, long after the event. The study concludes that, as the effects of abducted can be seriously negative and long-lasting, more must be done to protect children against abduction and its effects. Recommendations are made relating to the prevention of abduction, reunification when abduction occurs, and support for abducted children and their families including where the abducted child is not found, or is not returned to the State of habitual residence, as well as when the child is reunified with the left-behind family.”

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