FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                   OJJDP

THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2001                                                                                     202/307-0703







WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has identified key factors that point to a greater likelihood that parents will abduct their children.  Published in a new bulletin, these factors include prior threats, a belief the child is being abused, parental psychological disorders, the end of a multi-national marriage and alienation from the legal system.

OJJDP also makes a number of recommendations to reduce these risks, such as parent legal education programs and efforts to increase parents’ access to legal representation.

“When a parent abducts his or her children, it wreaks immeasurable havoc not only on the children, but also on the other parent and entire community,” said OJJDP Acting Administrator John J. Wilson.  “We can do a better job of keeping children safe if we get this information out to the community and let them know what to watch for.”

According to Early Identification of Risk Factors for Parental Abduction, parents who suspect that the other parent is abusing or neglecting their children, whether or not it is true, and who also have support from other family members pose a greater risk of abducting their children.  This risk increases if the suspecting parents themselves were abused or neglected as children.

Parents who feel disconnected from the legal system also are more likely to abduct their children.  This alienation can stem from a variety of sources, such as poor education, prior negative experiences with the legal system or insufficient financial resources.

To reduce the risk for parents abducting their children, many steps can be taken, including:

·                      Improving enforcement of child custody orders;

·                      Investigating child abuse and neglect cases in a thorough and prompt manner;

·                      Ensuring that custody orders and visitation procedures protect children;

·                      Adapting parent education and custody mediation to meet the needs of multi-cultural families;

·                      Improving coordination between law enforcement and social services in child abuse and neglect cases, and

·                      Establishing unified family courts that provide for systematic case management and coordinated decisionmaking.

Early Identification of Risk Factors for Parental Abduction is based on three studies of child abduction cases in California and one study of intervention programs for parents identified as being at high risk for abducting.

Copies of the Early Identification of Risk Factors for Parental Abduction, as well as information about other OJJDP publications, programs and conferences, are available through the OJJDP Website at and from OJJDP's Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20857. The toll-free number is 1-800/638-8736.

Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP) bureaus and program offices is available at  Media should contact OJP’s Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.          

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