Thursday, May 8, 2008

A warning regarding child abduction

Child abduction is far more common than one would think. Only a small fraction of abductions make the news or receive an Amber Alert.

But those postcards from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children keep coming in the mail. Those are real people, real children and real parents who years later are still looking, still hoping, still praying for the return of their child. Looking right now, looking for years.

Children are particularly at risk during the first five years following a divorce proceeding.

The following information is available on the Utah Department of Public Safety website at

The policy is clear and correct, but in real life, if your child is taken to Utah , you are on your own.


Each year hundreds of children fall victim to family abductions.

Many believe these children are perfectly safe because they are with a family member; however, nothing could be farther from the truth.

It is common for the child victims to have their names and appearance altered, to experience medical and physical neglect, unstable schooling, homelessness, and frequent relocations.

These children are often told lies about the abduction and the left-behind parent; even that the left-behind parent is dead. Most of these children live as fugitives: taught not to trust anyone, told to keep secrets about their past; unable to establish relationships with friends; and always on the run from the law.

As a result of this form of serious child abuse, many child victims of family abductions experience psychological consequences and emotional distress.

Children involved in family abductions are usually taken by the non-custodial parent as an act of revenge against the ex-spouse/custodial parent.

Empower Your Children

Help your children help themselves. Be as honest as you can about the potential abduction.

Custodial parents should inform their children to never go on a trip without them.

Let your children know they should ask law enforcement for help if they are in an airport or traveling without your permission.

When instructing your children about how to use the telephone, make sure they know how to make long-distance and international calls. Teach them to dial “0” for an operator or “911” in an emergency.

Additional resources can be found at

Taking these important steps may help prevent the abduction of your child. Children are particularly at risk during the first five years following a divorce proceeding.

Obtain legal custody of your child.

Specify in the custody order exact times and locations for visitation.

Ask for special prevention provisions.

Consider counseling or mediation to work toward resolving problems.

Always keep current information of your child on file.

Notify schools, daycare centers, and babysitters of custody orders.

Keep current names and addresses of relatives or friends that the potential abducting parent might travel to.

Keep on file certified copies of your custody order

If you have custody papers from a state other then Utah, you MUST file them with the Utah State Courts.

If Your Child is Abducted

File a missing person report with your local police and request an investigation.

Request your child be entered into the FBI's National Crime Information Center computer. (NCIC)

If you suspect the child has been taken out of the country, call the U.S. Department of State.

Contact the state Missing Children's Clearinghouse.

Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

Consider asking the police or prosecutor to file criminal charges against the abductor.

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