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15 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 533 (2001)
Prosecuting International Parental Kidnapping

handle is hein.journals/ndlep15 and id is 539 raw text is: PROSECUTING INTERNATIONAL
PARENTAL KIDNAPPING
SusAN KRESTON*
INTRODUCTION
Parental kidnapping is a crime, recognized as such in the
United States by every state, the District of Columbia, and the
federal government.1 The harm done to the searching parent
and abducted child,2 the siblings of the kidnapped child, and the
friends and relatives of both the child and the searching parent is
well documented.3 The injury done to society from the occur-
rence of such a crime and the resulting lost faith in the criminal
justice system is immeasurable. This harm, reflected in the esti-
mated 350,000 parental kidnappings that occur yearly,4 has
resulted  in  these cases taking   on   a new   importance to
prosecutors.
Parental kidnapping is increasingly recognized as a form of
child abuse.' In its least aggravated form, kidnapping may instill
in the child a fear of the police and authority figures, or teach
*  Deputy Director, National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse. The
author wishes to thank the following people for their invaluable assistance and
support for this article: Romy Radin, Crystal Evans, Janet Heim, Dave Wagner,
Cindy Merrill, Dave Nuckols, Dave Peery, and Victor Vieth.
1. As used in this article, parental kidnapping refers to the taking, reten-
tion or concealment of a child or children by a parent or other family member,
or his or her agent, in derogation of the custody or visitation rights of another
parent, family member, or legal guardian. Parental kidnapping, parental
abduction, and custodial interference are used interchangeably unless specifi-
cally referring to a statutory definition. See AMERICAN PROSECUTORS RESEARCH
INST., CRIMINAL PARENTAL KIDNAPPING STATUTES (2000), for the full text of each
statute.
2. As used in this article, the terms searching parent, custodial parent,
aggrieved parent, and left behind parent are used interchangeably to refer to
the individual whose child has been kidnapped.
3. See GEOFFREY GREIF & REBECCA HEGAR, WHEN PARENTS KIDNAP: THE
FAMILIES BEHIND THE HEADLINES (1993) (citing the emotional, psychological,
physical, and financial crises suffered).
4. See DAVID FINKELHOR ET AL., U.S. DEP'T OF STATE, NATIONAL INCIDENCE
STUDIES ON MISSING, ABDUCTED, RUNAWAY AND THROWNAWAY CHILDREN IN
AMERICA (1990).
5. See generally GREIF & HEGAR, supra note 3; Dorothy Huntington, Paren-
tal Kidnapping: A New Form of Child Abuse, Address (March 1984), in AMERI-
CAN PROSECUTORS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF
PARENTAL ABDUCTION app. (1995).

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