April 25 is Parental Alienation Awareness Day
One of the most severe forms of child abuse is parental alienation, in which one parent seeks to weaken and damage the child’s relationship with the other parent. This often occurs in the context of acrimonious family breakdowns where exclusive custody of children is a primary aim of one parent.
There is a war going on at present between bodies which claim that Parental Alienation, or PA, is a real and serious condition and those which deny its existence. Among those in the first category are Parent groups around the world which are seeking that the condition be recognised in law so that it can be contained and dealt with, DAVIA to which MVI is affiliated and men’s groups generally. The group Alienated Children First, ACF, which is active in Ireland is typical of parent groups.
There are also many academic experts who have studied PA and counsellors such as Brian O’Sullivan who has been very active in drawing awareness to PA in Ireland and combating the false narrative surrounding it. Here is a Video of Jennifer Harman of the International Conference on Shared Parenting.
In the second category is Women’s Aid Ireland and various feminist groups around the world.
Feminist Groups which oppose PA
Jan James of Good Egg Safety CIC, a PA awareness group, stated in Feb 2022:
As this is being led by ideological bias, this interview with Womens Aid in the UK who were rabidly anti-PA have admitted in their own words that alienating behaviours ARE coercively controlling behaviours and so constitute domestic abuse.
Typical of those feminist groups which deny PA is the self-styled Irish Observatory on Violence Against Women which issued a report last December.
The report from the Irish Observatory on Violence Against Women is addressed to Grevio, the body which monitors a state’s implementation of the Istanbul Convention was launched at a seminar facilitated by the European Parliament Liaison Office in Ireland on Dec 2 2022.
Particular concern is raised about the family law courts, which it says, are not keeping women and children safe from ongoing violence post-separation. The report highlights that family law courts are also facilitating the use of the “much-discredited concept of parental alienation” which “may be used by the abusive partner to dismiss the children and/or mothers’ claim of violence perpetrated against the children and/or the mother”.
The Observatory consists of more than 20 groups including the main feminist groups.
They provide no evidence for the contention that the concept of parental alienation is much discredited. This is not surprising since neither they nor Grevio can provide evidence either against the fact that men and women suffer similar rates of domestic abuse.
Facts and Evidence on Parental Alienation and Misinformation
The organisation DAVIA is trying to rally support for the concept of PA, to organise events around the world for April 25 and to highlight the vast amount of research which exists into the condition as well as to point up its seriousness.
The seriousness of PA is revealed by these facts:
- Nearly one-quarter of separated or divorced parents reported at least one of their children had been alienated from them, according to one study (1).
- Hundreds of research studies confirming the existence of parental alienation have been conducted in 32 countries around the world (2).
- in nearly 1,200 trial and appellate cases, judges have ruled that evidence of possible parental alienation was relevant and admissible (3).
Despite the fact that parental alienation is an “equal opportunity” problem affecting both fathers and mothers (4), feminists have taken the implausible position that parental alienation is simply a ruse of abusive fathers (5).
In order to advance this theory, Jean Mercer and Margaret Drew published a book titled, Challenging Parental Alienation: New Directions for Professionals and Parents (6). The book refers to parental alienation as a “pseudoscience” and “belief system,” and concludes that family courts should avoid use of parental alienation concepts.
Despite the existence of hundreds of studies showing that women engage in domestic violence as often as men (7), the Mercer/Drew book consistently portrays fathers as abusers, suggesting its real intent is to falsely stereotype men.
In response, the Parental Alienation Study Group and Global Action for Research Integrity in Parental Alienation recently published a rebuttal titled, A Comprehensive Review of Misinformation and Other Inaccuracies in Challenging Parental Alienation (8). The 127-page rebuttal identifies five types of misinformation in the Mercer/Drew book.
One prominent author was Prof William Bernet of the University of Harvard, a leading expert on the subject.
The analysis concludes, “These errors are so egregious that we believe they constitute a deliberate attempt to mislead mental health professionals, legal professionals, and parents. The misinformation contained in this book is likely to cause irreparable harm to children and families.”
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35653764/ Table 2.