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Early Identification of Risk Factors for Parental Abduction

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2001
12 pages
A study funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention included four separate research projects aimed at preventing family abductions of children by examining what types of parents abduct their children and how to determine which children are at risk of being abducted by a parent or other family member.
The research also examined the role of domestic assault in increasing the likelihood of abduction and what can be done to prevent family abductions and protect the child. The research projects included a documentary study, a criminal sanctions study, an interview study, and an intervention study. Results revealed that parents and family members at risk of abducting a child are those who make persistent allegations of child abuse or neglect and family violence, have narcissistic and sociopathic personality traits, and have a history of trouble with the law. Others at risk include those who are unmarried, less educated, poor, and of ethnic minority status. Counseling intervention increased cooperation, reduced violence, and increased the likelihood of resolving custody issues. In addition, greater intervention by the district attorney’s office speeded the recovery of the child. Findings indicated the desirability of several actions by courts, public agencies, and private and nonprofit organizations to help families resolve their disputes amicably while addressing their legitimate concerns. These actions include increased parental access to legal information and representation, the development of prompt and effective responses to allegations and acts of domestic assault, the provision of services for high-risk and high-conflict families that are disputing custody, the protection of children’s interests and needs, and the creation of unified family courts. Profiles of parents at risk for abducting their children, photograph, 2 supplemental readings, and 11 references

Date Published: March 1, 2001