Difference between Abduction and Kidnapping

Abduction, a form of kidnapping, is often associated with family abduction. Family abduction occurs when a child is taken by force away from their family. Frequently the perpetrator is a parent, who has been involved in a child custody dispute with their former partner.


The legal definition of abduction is a coercive act performed in defiance of a custody order. In some cases, family abductions are carried out surreptitiously. They begin when a parent or anyone acting in their place uses pretext to get possession of the child, for instance, taking the child for an outing and never returning them. The perpetrator hides the child, taking them over state lines to keep the victim-parent away from their child. The objective of abduction is to get illegal custody of the child, violating the primary caretaker's rights.

Much misunderstanding exists about the endemic nature of family abduction. In a study conducted by the Polly Klaas Foundation, 80% of people believed family abductions less likely to happen than abductions by a stranger. But child abduction statistics show 78% of them are family abductions, compared to 22% stranger abductions.

Behind statistics lies the prevalent problem of soaring divorce rates over the last few decades, and the bitter child custody battles that erupt between former partners. Sociologists explain family abduction as a type of child endangerment. Abducted children may go without education and medical aid; and isolation from family and friends leaves them traumatized and distraught. Over 50% of family abductors have backgrounds that include violence, criminal behavior, and abuse of drugs.

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