Thursday, January 20, 2011

Child Abductions vs. "Child Abductions"

When I drive on the freeway, there are electronic signs up that give information, usually about traffic times. But every now and again, you get something like the following:

"Child Abduction Alert!
1999 Grey Chevy Tahoe
Lic ABC-1234"

Now, the natural response of most people is 'Child Abduction? How terrifying! Imagine if my kid got abducted by some stranger when we were at the park'.

Perhaps I'm a cynic, but my natural response is a little different. The first question that springs to my mind is this - if your kid were at the park and got abducted by some stranger pedophile, what are the chances that you'd actually know the number plate of the car that took them?

The answer, at least in my mind, is 'the chances are vanishingly small'. I'd expect abductions to happen precisely when the parents weren't around to see the number plate of the car. And if that's the case, wouldn't the immediate report be 'missing child', not 'child abduction'? How do you know they were actually abducted?

Given all this, it seems overwhelmingly likely that the parents in question must have known who it was that abducted their child. That's how they can give a name to the cops, and look up the person's car details with the DMV.

So who are the parents whose kids are being abducted by people they know? To ask this question is to know the answer. Dollars to donuts, the kids were abducted from their mother's custody by their father, who's now refusing to give them back, and whose whereabouts are now unknown.

Now for sure, this is something the law should get involved in. There's a chance that the dad has gone troppo, and the kids are at risk of some kind of murder suicide. But it's also possible (and to my uneducated guess, much more likely) that the dad is not planning to harm the kids, but is just not planning on giving them back to the mum. And give the way that divorce courts tend to screw over fathers, it is perhaps not surprising that some desperate fathers resort to these kinds of measures. That doesn't make it right, but it does make their motivations here a little more understandable.

Now think back to the red alert sign on the freeway. If it read 'Mother's sole custody of children violated! Family court decision over allocation of visitation rights under threat!' you might feel a little differently.

More infrequently, you get child abduction alerts that don't feature a number plate, just a vague description of the car. That's when I cross my fingers and hope for the safety of the child, because they really have been abducted.

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