Number of international family abductions rising

According to the Associated Press and CNN, State Department officials say the number of American kids kidnapped abroad is still rising. And will likely continue this way, given this age of globalization and international travel and international marriage.

In US fiscal year 2006, 642 children were abducted from the United States by one of their parents, a report released two years ago by the State Department found.

That rose to 794 children for the same 12 months in 2007 and to 1,082 in 2008, according to the report.

In 2008, 484 children were abducted to the United States, and only 361 children who were illegally taken out of the United States by a parent were returned, the report said.

The rise in international child abductions by parents was “a disturbing trend,” [Susan] Jacobs said.

Children who are kidnapped and taken out of their country of usual residence are “at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems,” while left-behind parents have to deal with numerous obstacles as they battle to get their children back or even just for the right to see them again, she said.

“They confront unfamiliar legal, cultural and linguistic barriers, suffer emotional trauma and face significant and long-term financial costs,” said Jacobs, who was appointed last year to head the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI).

The OCI is the central authority in the United States for the 1980 Hague Convention, an international agreement that requires kidnapped children to be returned promptly to their country of habitual residence.

It is also one of the fastest-growing offices in the State Department, “which sadly reflects the growth of international child abduction,” Jacobs said.

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