Bouncing back after an international parental child abduction

Children frustrated about lack of information and participation in court proceedings affecting them.

23 November 2017 “I feel it’s difficult for me. Due to what happened, I feel so lonely now. When I compare myself with my fellow students, I just feel different.”
Karen, 15 years old
“I don’t really have the feeling that they took my opinion into account. I mean, I am younger than a certain age, but that doesn’t mean that I'm invisible right…”
Rebecca, 14 years old
Approximately 130 000 international couples file for divorce annually in the EU. Children are involved in many of these cases. When a family conflict escalates, it may lead to an international child abduction.

Every year, thousands of children in the EU become victims of an international child abduction by a parent. This situation will, to a great extent, influence the daily lives of these children: the country they will live in, the language they will speak, the family members and relatives they will have regular contact with. All this has an influence on the wellbeing of these children.

An increasing political focus on the rights of the child amplifies the importance of information on the needs and wishes of children in all matters affecting them.

Missing Children EuropeChild Focus (Belgium), the University of AntwerpCentrum IKO (the Netherlands), CFPE-Enfants Disparus (France) and the French Ministry of Justice have launched a research study to measure the wellbeing of children who were abducted by a parent and looked into the circumstances that influence this wellbeing.

The research revealed that, no matter the circumstances or where they end up living, children find it important to remain in contact with both their parents.

Children complained about the lack of communication and understanding related to legal proceedings, the outcomes and the reasons for certain decisions.

Research partners found that children who return to their habitual residence do have a higher wellbeing, but the circumstances of the return are of vital importance. When a child sees his/her abducting parent arrested in this process, this will to a great extent influence his/her wellbeing negatively. On the other hand, receiving psychological assistance during the return will have a positive influence on their wellbeing.

On 23 November, the results of the research will be presented to 150 professionals (judges, lawyers, central authorities, mediators) from 25 different countries who deal with international child abduction cases across Europe at the Bouncing back conference in Antwerp, Belgium. Find the brochure with a summary of the research findings here and the complete research papers here. A press briefing will be held by Child Focus at 9:30 am on 23 November at the conference venue to share the results.

Missing Children Europe will next develop a set of recommendations to improve the wellbeing of children based on these findings and will continue its efforts to raise awarness for children’s needs and concerns.

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