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  • Hunt for children snatched by their own parents
  • By Sue Hewitt
  • Herald Sun
  • 14/03/2010 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: Rambo ( 4 articles in 2010 )
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* Court publishes photos of missing kids
* "Custody disputes" behind abductions
* AFP says these cases are high priority

POLICE are searching for fugitive mothers and fathers believed to have snatched their children to deny their former partners access.

The number of parents who have absconded with their children has spiked in the past month.

Authorities have warned offenders they face a year in jail if caught and as a last resort to find the children, a court has allowed the Sunday Herald Sun to publish photographs of six who are missing.

Authorities believe it is possible all six children have either passed through Victoria or could be living in the state in secret.

Normally it is illegal to publish details of children involved in custody disputes, but the court decided these were desperate cases where the children would not otherwise be found.

The Federal Magistrates Court has posted details of the missing children on its website.

In some cases, parents on the run have changed their appearance and that of the children. They have kept the children out of school and keep on the move to avoid being found.

Bad blood between parents and the kidnapping of children could cause irreparable damage to the children, experts say.

In the past month, a court has made four publication orders involving six children - four times more than in the previous year.

The children involved range in age from two to 14. Publication orders are a last resort and follow lengthy court battles and police investigations.

This year there have also been 57 recovery orders - the step before a publication order - to initiate a thorough police search for missing children.

Australian Federal Police said they place a "high priority" on these cases.

"Due to the potential risk to the safety or wellbeing of the child, (these cases) are considered high priority," an AFP spokesman said.

John Faulks, the Family Court's Deputy Chief Justice, said:"The court is very concerned some parents who are involved in family law disputes choose to abscond with the children rather than abide by court orders that determine the amount of time a child spends with each parent," he said.

"Thankfully, most people operate on the basis that laws and orders made by courts are obeyed.

"Unfortunately there are some people who believe that their grievances outweigh the need to adhere to such law and order.

"The court understands that people are sometimes upset with the court process, however the solution is not to run away with the children, but rather to use the courts to work through the issue.

"Parents should adhere to court orders or they are at risk of serious consequences."

Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said kidnapped children could be traumatised.

He said the worst affected were children aged between five and 14 because they needed consistency.

He said the kidnappings were destabilising for children and could completely break the bond with the parent waiting for them at home.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show about 2.5 million Australians are denied access to family because of family law proceedings.

The Sunday Herald Sun has found there are 700,000 children in Australia who have no meaningful contact with one of their non-custodial parents, mostly their fathers.

If anyone has information, please contact Australian Federal Police on (02) 6126 7926 or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.


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