Child abduction

Other Names:
Illegal appropriation of children
Kidnapping of children
Baby snatching

Child abduction or child theft is the unauthorized removal of a minor (a child under the age of legal adulthood) from the custody of the child's natural parents or legally appointed guardians.

The term child abduction conflates two legal and social categories which differ by their perpetrating contexts: abduction by members of the child's family or abduction by strangers:

Parental child abduction: unauthorized custody of a child by a family relative (usually one or both parents) without parental agreement and contrary to family law ruling, which may have removed the child from the care, access and contact of the other parent and family side. Occurring around parental separation or divorce, such parental or familial child abduction may include parental alienation, a form of child abuse seeking to disconnect a child from targeted parent and denigrated side of family. Abduction or kidnapping by strangers (from outside the family, natural or legal guardians) who steal a child for criminal purposes which may include: extortion, to elicit a ransom from the guardians for the child's return illegal adoption, a stranger steals a child with the intent to rear the child as their own or to sell to a prospective adoptive parent human trafficking, a stranger steals a child with the intent to exploit the child themselves or by trade in a list of possible abuses including slavery, forced labor, sexual abuse, or even illegal organ trading murder

Neonatal "infant abduction" and prenatal fetal abduction are the earliest ages of child abduction as defined by a viable child through the age of majority. In addition, "embryo theft" and even "oocyte misappropriation" in reproductive medical settings have been legalistically construed as child abduction.

Up to one million children have been kidnapped for the sex market. The sex tour industry and the presence of military bases in developing countries has lead to an enormous increase of child prostitution which aggravates kidnapping. Children from Latin American, Asian and African slums are kidnapped and sold to rich clients in the north to be used privately or in brothels.

In the UK the number of child abductions increased from 40 in 1987 to 263 in 1993.

Narrower Problems:
Parental kidnapping
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET