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THE CHILD REPORT

The Research

The objective children and independently

of this young of their

part of people parents,

the research was to capture the experiences of the

themselves. Hearing we hoped to gain a better

from them directly, and understanding of the effects

on

children

of

international

parental

abduction.

We

were

also

interested

in

whether

these

differ

in

any

way

from

the

effects

of

parental

separation

and

divorce

in

general.

We

hoped

to

be

able to

identify

from

what

the

children

and

young

people

themselves

had to say any lessons that are to be learned by parents and professionals.

The research was conducted by semi-structured face to face interviews with the children. We used a basic questionnaire but allowed the children to range more widely and explore issues with us relating to the abduction and its aftermath not necessarily catered for within the questionnaire. Consent was secured at the time of the interview from the parent with care. The non-resident parents were also aware that we were hoping to interview their children. Each of the children and young people interviewed agreed to participate. Interviews were conducted in this country and in three different jurisdictions abroad. The children themselves, together with the parent with care, chose the venue. All the interviews took place within the primary home except in one instance, where the child chose to come to London for a meeting at a CAFCASS office. Most of the sibling groups interviewed were seen jointly, a choice exercised by the children concerned. They were each given the option to be seen individually but only one sibling pair availed themselves of the opportunity. The interviews were all conducted in private. One child, a younger sibling, preferred not to participate. He was aware that his sibling was being interviewed but avoided the room in which this was taking place.

The Sample

Ten children were interviewed from seven of the families participating in the study. Of these 60% were male and 40% female. Their ages at time of interview ranged from ten years to eighteen years. At the time of abduction, 40% of the children were aged four years and under, 50% were aged between five years and nine years, and 10% were over fourteen years of age. In the group of children and young people studied, age and gender seems not to have been the major determinant of how they were affected. All of the children were adversely affected in different ways notwithstanding their age and stage of development.

All of the children were abducted with their siblings. There was just one only child in the sample and she, of course, was abducted alone. In all cases the abduction event occurred over five years ago. The time the children spent away ranged from six weeks to fourteen months and in one instance the child has never returned to live in his country of residence. With only one exception, all of the children are of white European extraction, the other child being black Afro-Caribbean.

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