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Steps to help prevent international child abduction

Few events are more frightening than a California parent’s fear that someone, such as the child’s other parent, may be seeking to abduct their child and remove the child from the United States. California’s AMBER alert system is a tool one can utilize when a child is the victim of an abduction.

The United States’ Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs also provides preliminary steps a parent should take if that parent believes the child is in danger of international abduction.

Get a court order

It emphasizes that it is critical to get a court order prohibiting the child from leaving the country. This court order may be the document that enables law enforcement to take action to prevent the departure. The court order may broadly prevent leaving the country or more narrowly prevent leaving the county, or something in between.

Notify police

A parent should also contact the police if there is a potential for an international abduction and advise the police if there is a court order in place. The police can ensure that the National Crime Information Center receives the missing child information. By doing so, the information is shared with the state police and a broader search will be possible.

If working with a particular law enforcement official, a parent can ask for contact details of that official as well as for a backup officer should that original officer become unavailable at any time.

Contact airport

If a parent is aware of the airport he or she believes the abducting parent may be using, that parent can notify the airport and its corporate security officer or head law enforcement personnel of the situation. The parent will want to be able to provide the documentation supporting the parent-child relationship and the existence of the court order. The parent can provide the child’s name and learn if there has been a reservation made in the name of the child.

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