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Sarah-Cecilie – a personal insight into the impact of parental child abduction

I recently attended a private film screening of a film called Sarah-Cecilie made by a charity called Action Against Abduction.

The organisation’s founder Lady Catherine Meyer attended the screening and spoke movingly about her own experience of having her two sons abducted.
It was heart-warming to hear that her story has a happy ending in that she is in touch with her sons who are now grown up.

Action against Abduction was founded in 1999 and produced this short documentary Sarah-Cecilie. Sarah was abducted by her father when was aged 4 years old and lived on the run with him until she was 16 years old. Aged 8, her hair was cut short and she pretended to be a boy called Max. Sarah got in touch with her mother when she was 17 years old.

The documentary provides an insightful and personal account of the devastating impact of parental child abduction on the left behind parent and on the abducted child. Some were moved to tears as Sarah’s mother described the deep sense of loss she felt after Sarah’s abduction.

As a solicitor frequently acting for parents in international child abduction matters, my involvement is usually limited to a legal perspective so it was enlightening to watch this highly personal account.

As part of its goals to have effective strategies and resources in place to prevent child abduction, the charity is in the midst of developing a campaign to help teach children how to stay safe. This is an alternative model to the “stranger danger” campaign of the 1970s which many argue has frightening implications of a scary stranger luring a child away.

It is hoped that with funding, a national campaign with a teaching resource called “Clever never goes” will help educate and empower children about staying safe and make them part of the conversation in a positive and re-assuring way.