Forced separation of parents and children

Other Names:
Compulsory resettlement of children
Removal of children by undue influence
Separation of parent and child under duress
Theft of children

This problem is a principal consequence of major disasters, civil conflict, and war. It may also be associated with some form of ethnic cleansing: active or passive genocide aimed at exterminating a minority culture.


As a consequence of World War II, many children in the UK (whether orphans or not) were separated from their parents under dubious circumstances and despatched to the colonies, supposedly as a form of security. It has been alleged that some ended up working in institutions under conditions approximating those of slave labour.

Indigenous children have been forcibly removed from their families and communities since the very early days of the European occupation of Australia. The findings of the 1997 National Inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children from their families found that not one indigenous family has escaped the effects. Nationally, the Inquiry concluded that between one in three and one in ten indigenous children were forcibly removed, by the State, from their families and communities between 1910 and 1970.

Narrower Problems:
Parental kidnapping
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST