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What are the Different Types of Child Abduction?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are many different types of child abduction, and some are more common in certain areas than others. Kidnapping by a stranger is often the most feared type of abduction in most societies, but familial abduction is much more common. Acquaintance abduction may also occur and is also a serious form of child abduction because the victim is a minor. In some areas, children can be abducted and forced into slavery, military service, or sex work.

When talking about child abduction, the type of abduction most feared by parents is usually abduction by a stranger for ransom or other purposes. A stranger may also abduct a child for the purpose of raising the child as his or her own. Children who are abducted in this manner often undergo physical trauma, sexual assault, or may even be killed. While this type of child abduction is rare, it is a very serious crime.

It is much more common for children to be kidnapped by family members. In a custody battle or other case in which the parents are separated, one parent may take the child away and hide, which is considered child abduction. Typically this type of abduction is perpetrated by parents, but grandparents and other relatives may kidnap a child as well. Usually, the perpetrator believes he or she is committing this crime for the good of the child.

Acquaintance abduction is much more common with teens than other children because the perpetrator is typically around the victim's age. The abductor may be a former romantic partner, member of a gang, or any other acquaintance. In this type of abduction, the victim may undergo additional assault, often relating to the relationship between the victim and the offender.

It is uncommon in most areas, but in some places, children can be abducted in large groups and forced into various types of undesirable work. Children may be trafficked as slaves or sex workers or may be forced to serve as soldiers. Even in areas where this is not common, individual children may still be forced into prostitution or slavery.

Child abduction is usually defined by the type of perpetrator involved, but even within the broad categories above, abductions can be different based on motivation. A kidnapping for money is usually seen as different than a kidnapping out of malice, love, or insanity. In some areas, parental kidnapping does not even exist legally, which means that the same action is not always considered the same crime depending on jurisdiction.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon352188 — On Oct 20, 2013

Abduction by strangers is widely practiced by Murle tribes of South Sudan. It's now becoming the culture. Even today, they attack maar payam and its neighbors and carry out massive child abductions. It isn't rare.

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