Millions of Americans receive advertisements in the mail with pictures of missing children and their alleged abductors. Many people quickly glance at the pictures, some study them more carefully, and some do not look at all. In the majority of cases, these children have been abducted by relatives, usually a parent.

Parental abduction can have a devastating impact on the child who is abducted and also the parent who is left behind. A quick recovery is critical to reducing the trauma to both child and parent. Law enforcement and criminal court involvement in these cases can make the difference in how effectively the search is conducted and can influence how quickly the child is recovered.

To better understand the criminal justice systemís response to parental abduction, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) funded a study—conducted jointly by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law and Westat—that examined this issue. This Bulletin summarizes the primary findings of this study.1

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The Criminal Justice System's Response to Parental Abduction Juvenile Justice Bulletin December 2001