Attempted Kidnapping from Preschool – what happened and what you need to know


Learn about the law on child abduction

A warrant for arrest had been issued for a man who tried to pick a 3-year-old girl, who was not his daughter, from Crescent Early Childhood Center. According to Pittsburg police, the Pittsburg Public Schools has a surveillance system that showed the man they had initially thought was the offender was not the one. They withdrew the warrant but still the matter is under investigation.1

What is child abduction?

Child abduction is the act of wrongfully removing detaining, retaining, removing, or concealing a baby or child. A child may be abducted by open force or violence, fraud or persuasion. Child abduction may be done by a parent or a stranger as in the case above.2 5

Cases of parent abduction are often seen during and after a divorce. This action is often meant to circumvent the court of defy a court order regarding the legal custody of the child. Strangers abduct children for torture, abuse, murder, extortion, raise the child as his or her own, or for ransom. In the USA, parent abductions are the most prevalent.

How does abduction differ from kidnapping?

The term kidnapping and abduction are always used interchangeably. However, kidnapping often involves the use or threat to use force when taking and holding the victim.

What does the law say about kidnapping?

The USA federal criminal code (18 U.S.C. § 1201)3 has made kidnapping one of the serious felonies that carry a jail term of 20 years or more. This depends on whether the offender had been convicted of similar crimes in the past and the circumstances of the case at hand.

The law confines that if the offender would not have released the victim within twenty-four hours after the kidnapping or confinement, he or she shall be presumed that the person is transported interstate or foreign commerce. However, the law enforcement agencies have the right to investigate any violation before the 24 hours have ended.3

What if the child has been abducted by one of the parents and taken overseas?

The USA is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Convention6. This treaty provides the framework for ensuring the return of retained or removed children to the country of habitual residence so that a competent court makes decisions on the custody of the child and ensures the interests of the child are take care of. The Attorney General can request repatriation of the child from the country he or she is back to the USA.4

It is important that caretakers and teachers, especially for early childhood centers to ensure that there is adequate security for the children.