Psychological Effects of International Child Abduction

Monday, February 6, 2012

 By John Daignault, Psy.D.

Research demonstrates that child abduction often results in substantial psychological harm to the child victim. Child abduction of the international type brings with it additional areas of substantial concern. A number of serious psychological symptoms and disorders have been correlated with international child abduction.

To begin with, consider the true story of 9-year-old Sean, his father David, and his mother Bruna, as presented by CBS New York in May 2011:

David believed he had a terrific life in New Jersey with his Brazilian wife Bruna and their son Sean. In 2004, Bruna took Sean, then 4, to her native Brazil for what David believed would be a two week visit.

But once in Brazil, Bruna called David and said was staying, and so was Sean.

David began trying to use the Hague Convention dealing with child abductions to try to get Sean back. The international treaty, of which the U.S. and Brazil are signatories, seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made by the courts in the country where a child originally lived — in this case, the United States. However, for years, during David’s trips to Brazil to try to enforce his rights, he wasn’t even granted visits with Sean.

View the Winter 2012 Family Law Section Newsletter to continue reading this article.