A new must read article from the Child Welfare Monitor that should be shared. The truth about false allegations of “parental alienation” which lead to “Reunification Programs” and how abusers are using it in family court to hurt their children and their protective parent.
An unproven–and mostly discredited–theory is encouraging family court judges to award custody–against children’s wishes–to the parent that has been accused of harming them. Moreover, this theory of “parental alienation” has “spawned a cottage industry of so-called family reunification camps that are making big profits from broken families.” That’s the message of a stunning report by the Center for Investigative Journalism aired on public radio’s Reveal program.
The Reveal broadcast focused on two custody cases in which the judge ordered children placed against their will with the parent that they claimed was abusive. In one case, the judge sent a teenage boy to juvenile detention because he was not making sufficient efforts to get along with his mother. He and his sister were then sent to live with their father and allowed no contact with their mother for a period of three years. In the other case, a fourteen-year old girl who said her mother was emotionally abuse and wanted to live with her father was sent to a “reunification camp” for ten months at her parents’ expense. Her mother was given full custody and the teen was separated from her father father for four years. The judges in both cases based their decisions on a theory called “parental alienation.”
“Parental alienation,” originally “Parental alienation syndrome (PAS),” was the brainchild of Richard Gardner, a child psychiatrist who developed it to help fathers fight abuse claims in custody disputes. In its current iteration, parental alienation describes a parent’s attempt to turn the children against another parent in a custody dispute. A charge of parental alienation is often deployed by a parent who has been accused of abuse, allowing that parent to turn the tables and accuses the other parent of brainwashing the children. The theory encourages judges to remove children from the parent with whom they are bonded because that parent is believed to have alienated them against the other parent.
According to Joan Meier, a leading researcher in the field of domestic violence and custody cases, there is little evidence to support the idea that “parental alienation” due to manipulation by one parent is a common occurrence. However, invoking parental alienation allows an abusive parent to portray a protective parent as a vengeful liar who is manipulating the children by implanting false memories of abuse. The theory creates a “paradoxically disastrous dynamic“: if an abuser can convince a court that the children’s attitudes reflect parental alienation, he can actually benefit from his abuse.
The Reveal story was misleading in one respect. While acknowledging that the charge of alienation is overwhelmingly used by fathers against mothers, the story focused on twofamilies in which the mothers used the charge to take custody from the fathers. Much more common are stories like the following:
Read the Full Story at childwelfaremonitor.org
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