“Only if I understand this person’s point of view, I’m inclined to follow the rules they set for me.” – Young person, Cyprus 

Brussels, 23.06.2021 – Research conducted as part of the INCLUDE project shows that children abducted by one of their parents feel they are not trusted, due to the lack of clear communication and a limited understanding of the situation. Additionally, children and young people point out that their voice is not always considered, even if they are being heard in the legal proceedings. An undesired outcome for children leads to feelings of helplessness and anxiety.

Research carried out in partnership with children and young people as part of the INCLUDE project made it possible to identify their needs in terms of participation in procedures related to international parental abductions. During workshops with children, researchers established that adults’ decisions in matters of child abduction have a profound impact on affected children and young people. Both within the family and within the legal procedures that follow, children’s perspectives should be valued and taken seriously.

Children and young people claim that they want to be involved, as having a say in matters that concern them positively affects their wellbeing. Attentive and genuine involvement allows children and young people to feel trusted and respected. At the same time, research shows that children may be hesitant to speak up in front of adults. This hesitation is more visible in front of authorities (e.g. a judge) than in front of other unknown (e.g. psychologists) or familiar adults (e.g. teachers or family members), even if trust in the family is damaged.

For abducted children and young people to feel included, respected and taken seriously in decisions about their lives, adults should adopt a positive, confident and reassuring interaction style with children and young people.

A total of 44 young people aged 10 to 17 years old from Hungary, Cyprus and Belgium participated in the project. Mixed methods of drama workshops (Cyprus/Hungary), involving young people as researchers in discussing the workshop outcomes and focus group discussions, were used to gather children and young people’s perspectives. The research results provided the basis for a guide for professionals which aims to enhance the wellbeing of children at all stages of an international child abduction by providing guidelines and good practices to legal and other professionals.

Read Good Practice Guide

It is reassuring for me to see that children who have never experienced a child abduction understand my situation and show empathy. – Young person, Belgium, personally affected by child abduction 


The aim of the INCLUDE project is to enhance the participation and the wellbeing of children at all stages of an international child abduction: from the start of the case until the enforcement and after return. 

Visit the website: https://missingchildreneurope.eu/include/  

For further information please feel free to contact Greg Kostka on greg.kostka@missingchildreneurope.eu.