More child kidnappings last year despite travel restrictions
The number of children considered abducted and taken abroad increased slightly in 2020 to 224 children, compared to 207 children in 2019, the Center for International Child Abduction (IKO) announced on Monday. The downward trend in the number of child abductions reversed in 2020 after three years, despite international travel restrictions imposed due to coronavirus.
A negative travel advisory was in force during most of last year, but in practice parents still took children abroad by car, train, plane or boat, commonly via another country before arriving at their destination. After interviews that IKO conducted with parents it became clear that the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated problems within many families.
Parents faced increased pressure due to losing their jobs or spending more time at home due to a lockdown, among other reasons. In addition, dozens of parents were locked out of visiting their home countries, or feared they would not be able to visit their relatives abroad due to travel restrictions.
These problems contributed to the fact that parents felt prompted to take the drastic action of abducting a child without the consent of another parent or guardian. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic caused some parents to take their children to a foreign country without consent, claiming it was safer there.
In 74% of child abduction cases, the mother was the kidnapper, compared to 25% in which it was the father. In 1% of cases, the perpetrator was another family member. 63% of all kidnapped children last year were 12 years old or younger. The number of cases of imminent child abductions continued to decline. In the last year, 239 children were subject to potential abductions, down from 397 recorded one year earlier.
The country to which most children were abducted from the Netherlands in 2020 was Poland, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.
On the other hand, children kidnapped by family members and taken to the Netherlands were most commonly brought from Belgium, France, China and the Czech Republic.