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Hogwarts used intimidation and threats (via Hagrid and bombardment with letters) to take Harry, a minor, away from his legal guardians for months at a time, when they clearly would not have given consent for him to go to Hogwarts otherwise.

Regardless of whether or not his legal guardians are nice people, isn't this technically kidnapping/abduction?

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    To me, it seems that this is either opinion-based, or possibly a legal/ethical question. It doesn't seem like a good fit for this site. – wyvern Sep 19 '15 at 10:03
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    Possibly a better fit for LAW:SE, nevertheless, on-topic here. – Valorum Sep 19 '15 at 10:04
  • Seems too broad or opinion-based to me, too. A mentally tortured child-slave being kept under a staircase, being rescued and taken to a place his parents would almost certainly want him to be educated is another way to look at it. (Not to mention the whole mess with MAGIC being involved. Even if technically kidnapping, the magic aspect is problematic.) – Meat Trademark Sep 19 '15 at 10:31
  • I think there are enough clues in the novel (especially regarding Dumbledore's original deal with the Dursley's) that this has an objective answer. – KutuluMike Sep 19 '15 at 11:28
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    I'm unsure why this is attracting close votes. It seems quite answerable. – Valorum Sep 19 '15 at 16:55
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A very interesting question. I shall deal with it in two parts:

Was he 'kidnapped'?

No. The definition of kidnapping only applies where someone is removed without their consent. Since this isn't is the case, the likely offence is one of "child abduction" per the Child Abduction Act (1984)

A person ... commits an offence if, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, he takes or detains a child under the age of sixteen so as to remove him from the lawful control of any person having lawful control of the child.

Although you could argue kidnap on the grounds of substantial coercion and that the child was not of sufficient age to consent, Harry's clear choice is to go to Hogwarts. Such a charge would not be supportable.

‘Er – I need to be at King’s Cross tomorrow to – to go to Hogwarts.’
Uncle Vernon grunted again.
‘Would it be all right if you gave me a lift?’

Was he 'abducted'?

A toughie. Certainly Hogwarts could be seen to have coerced his guardians by threats, including sending their resident half-giant around to the Dursley's house to smash up the place and injure their only natural-born child.

On the other hand, there was a sizeable gap between Hagrid's arrival and Harry leaving for school in which his guardians didn't simply do nothing to prevent any further risk of his going away but actually contributed to his leaving, including dropping him off (unsupervised) at the train station:

‘Barking,’ said Uncle Vernon, ‘howling mad, the lot of them. You’ll see. You just wait. All right, we’ll take you to King’s Cross. We’re going up to London tomorrow anyway, or I wouldn’t bother.’

‘Why are you going to London?’ Harry asked, trying to keep things friendly.

‘Taking Dudley to hospital,’ growled Uncle Vernon. ‘Got to have that ruddy tail removed before he goes to Smeltings.’

This gives Hogwarts four strong defenses in their favour;

  • It was the well-known choice of his parents that he went to Hogwarts:

His name’s been down ever since he was born.

  • His present guardians appear to have tacitly agreed to his leaving.

  • His present guardians are largely unfit. This would negate the primary defence that Hogwarts was not a fit person/institution to take action to remove him from the family:

‘I heard you went to live with Muggles,’ said Ron. ‘What are they like?’ ‘Horrible – well, not all of them. My aunt and uncle and cousin are, though.'

and finally...

  • Hogwarts (and the wizarding world in general) appears to be a separate jurisdiction in UK Law. It's at least arguable that Harry is considered a 'resident alien' in the UK which would give the wizgamot or Ministry of Magic some say over whether or not Hogwarts was a fit guardian in loco parentis
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    Technically there's no proof that the dursleys are his legal guardians in the eyes of the law. Was he adopted, what court sanctioned it? It's never explicitly stated. – user46509 Sep 19 '15 at 12:04
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    @CarlSixsmith - Harry attends the local primary school. Since the Dursleys signed him up, that would require them to sign papers showing that they were acting as his legal guardians. My guess is that they never signed any formal guardianship papers and were simply surprised at how smoothly things seemed to go, unaware of the wizards charged with making sure that few questions were asked. – Valorum Sep 19 '15 at 12:19
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    "‘But I don’t say so,’ said Professor McGonagall, standing up and piling her papers neatly into a drawer. ‘The form clearly states that the parent or guardian must give permission.’" – Valorum Sep 19 '15 at 12:21
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    I've got three kids in primary school. Never once been asked to prove who I am, schools just assume. – user46509 Sep 19 '15 at 12:22
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    I kind of disagree that the Dursleys dropping him off at the train station implies consent. They had spent considerable effort trying to escape, only to be eventually found by Hagrid. When Mr. Dursley explicitly states that he doesn't want Harry to attend ("I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!") Hagrid responded by shouting and brandishing a lethal weapon (his wand/umbrella). It would seem that they let Harry go largely out of fear due to Hagrid's threatening and intimidating behaviour -- and they could have felt that they had no choice and had nowhere to run. – CaptainCodeman Sep 19 '15 at 23:25

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