The apparent murder-suicide of a Wisconsin father and his 7-year-old son last week in a hotel room is an example of an often-overlooked fact: Parents or relatives commit more than three-quarters of child abductions–about 200,000 cases each year, says columnist Ruben Rosario of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Noncustodial moms and dads snatch and hold their kids hostage in equal numbers. Most are found “safe and unharmed.” Numerous studies say, though, that many of these kids are traumatized or scarred for life.
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) are co-sponsors of a bill that seeks to raise awareness of such cases and better train law enforcement to deal with them. “Far too often, family abduction cases are ignored by the media and by law enforcement – casting them aside as merely domestic disputes,” Feinstein said two years ago when the bill was first introduced. Companion legislation would grant law enforcement the authority to detain any child who is reported to the FBI as missing. It would establish a national registry of custody orders that would make it easier for cops to determine whether there is a pre-existing custody order in the event of a dispute.