There will be many emotions, situations and issues arising when a child returns home after an abduction by a family member. Here are some tips from experts on how to handle the challenges of reunification with your child:
- Keep lines of communication open and encourage your child to come to you if they need to talk.
- Your child may seem fine in the beginning, but may need to act out and test limits later.
- Establish boundaries that are clear and loving.
- Reinforce and reward good behavior.
- Discuss consequences for inappropriate behavior in advance such as removal of toys or privileges. No not include physical punishment. Consequences should be applied calmly and consistently.
- Seek individual and/or family therapy. Carefully chose a therapist with a positive track record in working with missing or abducted children, abused children, or victims of crime.
- When your child goes back to school or begins attending school, inform the school of any potential safety concerns. Provide administration with copies of the custody orders. Make sure they know that your child should never be released to anyone but you or a designated adult.
- Monitor school, residence or play areas for cars or people that look like they may be watching you or your children. Write down any information, no matter how small you think it may be.
- Have your children photographed and fingerprinted. Keep updated information about your children in a safe location.
- If the abducting parent has any contact with your child, seek supervised visitation and/or require the abducting parent to post a bond.
- Make sure your children memorize and know how to spell their name, address, telephone number, their parent’s full name and people they can go to for help if they feel unsafe.
- To reduce long term negative consequences of abduction, acquire family intervention services as soon as possible.
- Give your kids a chance to speak about their ordeal and encourage them verbalize experiences they had while missing. Allow them to share both negative and positive experiences when they feel comfortable. Open and honest communication can help your child to heal.
- Build a support system of friends, parents and family members when your child returns home. Model behavior that you want your children to practice. Stay positive and encouraging despite any fear or anxiety you may feel, and seek counseling on your own if needed.
This list is not intended to be entirely comprehensive. It is intended only to assist parents who have dealt with a child abduction or the threat of abduction. For more tips and advice, contact your local police department or FBI office.
About The National Academy for Child Abduction Prevention Associates, LLC:
Founded in 2013 by Roy M. Doppelt, Esq., the National Academy for Child Abduction and Prevention Associates, LLC is an Academy of family law attorneys advocating prevention of child abduction through public education and professional collaboration. We believe that educating the public about kidnapping and its prevention is a paramount duty of attorneys who represent family law clients.