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International Parental Child Abduction - The Effects

This two-year research project considered the long and short term effects of international parental child abduction and included, we believe for the first time in an European study, an investigation of the effects on the abducted child through child interviews conducted by senior CAFCASS officers who worked with the Research Unit on this project.

Many parents had previously spoken informally of the effects of abduction and this research exercise allowed a formal investigation into the physical and emotional effects and whether these were affected by other factors such as the length of the abduction and the specific circumstances in which the abduction took place. The Research Report details the far-reaching and long-lasting effects of abduction from the perspective of both the left-behind parent and the abducting parent.

One of the objectives of the research was to capture the experiences of the children and young people themselves.  Hearing from them directly, and independently of their parents, we hoped to gain a better understanding of the effects on children of international parental abduction and also identify any lessons that could be learned by parents and professionals.  In the words of Singer J. who so kindly wrote the foreword to the Research Report, "The interviews with children are particularly striking and poignant.  Their accounts again demonstrate the long-lasting effect of abduction on the children and young persons involved, as they grow and develop."

Following the publication of the research findings, this statement was issued by Professor William Duncan, Deputy Secretary General, Hague Conference on Private International Law:

"Congratulations to reunite, and especially to Marilyn, for this excellent publication. Careful empirical studies of this kind are a vital basis for policy making at the national and international levels. It is a happy coincidence that the study is published a few months before the next meeting of the Special Commission to review the practical operation of the 1980 Hague Convention, for which it provides valuable background material."

Click here to download the full report


We are delighted to learn that our research into The Effects Of International Child Abduction, published in 2006, continues to be a useful resource to those working in the field of international child abduction.  Dr. Nicola Taylor, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research on Children and Families at the University of Otago Auckland Centre, New Zealand, has told us that she was happy when she came across the reunite report, which she now uses with her students, as it is rare to find research on this subject which actually involves talking with the family members most affected.  Associate Professor Pauline Tapp, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, kindly forwarded to us a copy of a note that she wrote for the New Zealand Law Journal (Welfare Of The Child And Abduction - Views From The Supreme Court And The House Of Lords, appeared March 2007 New Zealand Law Journal 77-80) which begins by detailing the reunite research.  Associate Professor Tapp states that her particular interest in Hague Convention matters was sparked by the views of the children expressed in the reunite research.  We are very grateful to these colleagues for their support.