Category: education

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, divorce, domestic violence, education, family
Divorce-iduced malice has become a syndrome… Moms Only…

Malicious Mother Syndrome – I say it is CHILD ABUSE SYNDROME.

While I’ve heard Parental Alienation Syndrome tossed around for years, a new term I’ve not seen before suddenly appeared before me in wikipedia – and I am amazed…

First of all, I want to say, if a couple divorces, using the child as a pawn, tool or means to an end – its not a syndrome, its CHILD ABUSE.

Harmful acts against a child that are done to satisfy the selfish desires of one of the parents is child abuse… even if you are not physically abusing the child.

But, a syndrome? if there was no malice…there’d be no divorce….

However, I do have to say – this “SYNDROME” is… a description of … my mother…

Except I am not her ex-husband and we’re not going through divorce… so how does that work out as far as the male/female thing goes?

(I will highlight in red the article’s descriptions that match those which I have suffered through my mother’s actions… )



Ira Daniel Turkat, Ph.D.

With the increasing commonality of divorce involving children, a pattern of abnormal behaviour has emerged that has received little attention. The present paper defines the Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome. Specific nosologic criteria are provided with abundant clinical examples. Given the lack of scientific data available on the disorder, issues of classification, etiology, treatment, and prevention appear ripe for investigation.


A divorced man gains custody of his children and his ex-wife burns down his home*.(an arson attempt was made on my apartment)

A woman in a custody battle buys a cat for her offspring because her divorcing husband is highly allergic to cats. A mother forces her children to sleep in a car to “prove” their father has bankrupted them. These actions illustrate a pattern of abnormal behavior that has emerged as the divorce rate involving children has grown.

Today, half of all marriages will end in divorce (Beal and Hochman, 1991). The number of children involved in divorce has grown dramatically (e.g., Hetherington and Arastah, 1988) as well. While the majority of such cases are “settled” from a legal perspective, outside the courtroom the battle continues.

The media has spent considerable effort raising public awareness about the problem posed by divorced fathers who do not provide court ordered child support payments. Hedges (1991) has noted that less than 20% of divorced fathers provide child support payments three years after their divorce. Research on the decline of women’s economic status following divorce (e.g., Hernandez, 1988; Laosa, 1988) has contributed to recent legislation to address the “Deadbeat Dad” problem.

While the media correctly portrays the difficulties imposed upon women and children by the “Deadbeat Dad” phenomenon, the cameras have yet to capture the warfare waged by a select group of mothers against child support paying, law abiding fathers. Every day, attorneys and therapists are exposed to horror stories in which vicious behaviors are lodged against innocent fathers and children. Unfortunately, there are no scientific data on the subject. Similarly, the clinical literature has relatively ignored the problem.

A notable exception can be found in the clinical writings of Gardner (1987, 1989) who has provided excellent descriptions of the Parental Alienation Syndrome. Here, a custodial parent successfully engages in a variety of maneuvers to alienate the child from the non-residential parent. Once successfully manipulated, the child becomes “…preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated” (Gardner, 1989 p. 226).

In the typical case of Parental Alienation Syndrome, both mother and child engage in an array of abnormal actions against the rather. Gardner views “brainwashing” as a concept “too narrow” (Gardner, 1989) to capture the psychological manipulation involved in turning a child against his/her non-residential parent.

While Gardner’s pioneering descriptions of the Parental Alienation Syndrome provide an important contribution to our understanding of divorce related child involved hostilities, the present paper is concerned with a more global abnormality. As noted in the examples provided in the beginning of this manuscript, serious attacks on divorcing husbands take place which are beyond merely manipulating the children. Further, these actions include a willingness by some mothers to violate societal law. Finally, there are mothers who persistently engage in malicious behaviors designed to alienate their offspring from the father, despite being unable to successfully cause alienation. In sum, these cases do not meet the criteria for Parental Alienation Syndrome. Nevertheless, they portray a serious abnormality.

The purpose of the present paper is to define and illustrate this more global abnormality with the hope of generating increased scientific and clinical investigation of this problem.


The present section provides a beginning definition of the Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome, which has been derived from clinical and legal cases. As in all initial proposals, it is anticipated that future research will lead to greater refinement in the taxonomic criteria. The proposed definition encompasses four major criteria, as follows:

A mother who unjustifiably punishes her divorcing or divorced husband (or daughter/son – noncustodial parent of their grandchild) by:

The mother specifically attempts to deny her child(ren):

  1. Attempting to alienate their mutual child(ren) from the father.
  2. Involving others in malicious actions against the father.
  3. Engaging in excessive litigation
  4. Not allowing Regular uninterrupted visitation with the father or Uninhibited telephone access to the father
  5. Interrupting paternal participation in the child(ren)’s school life and extra-curricular activities
Tile pattern is pervasive and includes malicious acts towards the husband including:
Lying to the children
Lying to others
Violations of law
The disorder is not specifically due to another mental disorder although a separate mental disorder may co-exist.

      In this section, I will provide clinical illustrations for each criterion using the reference numbers provided above. As criteria 1-3 are behavior specific to the Malicious Mother Syndrome, I will provide a series of clinical examples. The fourth criterion which addresses the relationship of the proposed syndrome to other mental disorders, will be discussed more generally.

      Criterion 1A: Alienating the Children

      The range of actions taken by a mother to attempt to alienate her children from their father is impressive. For example:

      One mother lied to her children that she could no longer buy food because their father had spent all of their money on women at topless bars.

      A doctor’s wife forced her 10 year old son to apply for federally funded free school lunches to delude the boy that his “daddy has made us poor.”

      A woman who for years was very close to the children in a custody battle, was asked by their mother to give up neutrality and join her campaign against the father to “dance on his grave.” When the friend refused to give up her neutrality, the mother falsely informed her children that their father was having an affair with this woman.

      These behaviors, if successful, could lead a child to not only hate the father but perhaps go years without seeing him.

      As Cartwright (1993) has noted:

      “The goal of the alienater is crystalline: to deprive the lost parent, not only of the child’s time, but of the time of childhood” (p. 210).

      Criterion 1B: Involving Others in Malicious Actions

      The second component of the first major criterion where the mother attempts to punish the husband, involves manipulating other individuals to engage in malicious acts against the father.

      Examples of this kind are as follows:

      During a custody battle, a mother lied to a therapist about the father’s behavior. The therapist, having never spoken with the father, appeared as an “expert” witness to inform the Judge that the mother should be the primary residential parent and that the father needed to be in therapy.

      One angry mother manipulated teenagers to leave anonymous threatening notes at the ex-husband’s home.

      A mother who had lost legal custody of her child, manipulated a secretary at the child’s school to assist in kidnapping the child.

      In the above examples, it is important to note that the person manipulated by the angry mother has, in a way, been “alienated” against the divorcing husband. Typically, the individual “duped” takes on a righteous indignation, contributing to a rewarding climate for the mother initiating malicious actions.

      Criterion 1C: Excessive Litigation

      There is little question that either party in a divorce or custody proceeding is entitled to appropriate legal representation and action. Individuals suffering from Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome, however, attempt to punish the divorcing husband by engaging in excessive litigation.

      A belligerent and unreasonable mother verbally attacked her ex-husband whenever she saw him. Over time, his response was to ignore her. She then took him to court, asking the judge to require the ex-husband to talk with her.

      One mother told a judge that her daughter was not really her divorcing husband’s child.

      One woman refused to stop attacking her ex-husband through the courts despite numerous attorneys being fired or voluntarily leaving the case. Over a three year period, seven different attorneys were utilized.

      Data exist which can help in determining the range of excessive litigation. For example, Keel et al. (1988) report on the frequency of post-divorce litigation in a sample of 700 families. Their data indicate that only 12.7% of families file one post-divorce petition to the court, whereas less than 5% file two or more petitions (Keel at al. 1988); less than 1% file four or more petitions.

      Criterion 2A: Denying Regular Visitation

      Experts are in relative agreement that regular and uninterrupted visitation with the non-residential parent is desirable and beneficial for children, except in extreme circumstances (Hedges, 1991). In fact, some states, such as Florida, have laws written to reflect this view (Keane, 1990). Unfortunately, even when the father and children have legal rights to visitation, individuals with Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome continue to interfere with it.

      A mother who previously attacked her ex-husband physically during visitation transfers of the children, refused to provide the children when the ex-husband had the police attend to monitor exchanges.

      When one divorced father arrived to pick up his children for visitation, the mother arranged for her and the children to be elsewhere so that the father could not visit with the children.

      One mother had her physically intimidating boyfriend assault her ex-husband when he came to pick up his children for visitation.

      The President of The Council for Children’s Rights (Washington, D.C.) notes that such alienation is considered a form of child abuse (Levy, 1992).

      Unfortunately, the police typically avoid involving themselves in such situations. Furthermore, unless a victimized father is financially capable of returning to court on an ongoing basis, there is little that can be done to prevent such mothers’ behavior.

      Finally, even when such cases are brought to trial, the courts are often inadequate in supporting fathers’ visitation rights (Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System, 1992).

      Criterion 2B: Denying Uninhibited Telephone Access

      Given the physical absence of one parent, the telephone plays an important role in maintaining the bond between child and non-residential parent.

      Individuals suffering from Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome engage in an array of actions designed to circumvent telephone access.

      A father called to speak to his children and was told that they were not at home when in bet he could hear their voices in the background.

      When one father called to speak with his children, the mother put him on “hold,” informed no one, and then left him there.

      Knowing that the children’s father was away on vacation, one mother encouraged them to leave several messages on his answering machine to call back immediately only if he would like some additional visitation time with his children.

      Some fathers find the alienation attempts so painful and fruitless that they eventually are extinguished from calling their children; they simply “give up.” Placed in a no-win scenario, the father’s “abandonment” (Hedges, 1991) unfortunately achieves the precise result aimed for by the individual suffering from Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome.

      Criterion 2C:Denying Participation in Extra-Curricular Activities

      An integral part of the process of maintaining one’s bond with one’s child is to participate in activities that one did before the parents separated. School plays, team sports, and religious events are just some of the types of activities of importance. Malicious Mothers frequently engage in maneuvers designed to prevent participation in these activities.

      One father was deliberately given the wrong date and time for an important event for the child. The child was asked by the mother, “I wonder why your father didn’t want to come to see you today”?

      One mother refused to provide the father with any information about any extra-curricular activities in which the children were engaged.

      Prior to a child’s soccer game, one mother told many of the team parents disparaging falsehoods about the visiting lather. When he came to watch his son’s soccer game, many of these parents looked at him with angry eyes, refused to talk with him, and walked away when he moved toward them.

      Malicious Mothers who engage in such behaviors rarely have to face penalties for such actions. Judges, attorneys, and policemen cannot involve themselves in every instance of blocked paternal access. Furthermore, most fathers cannot afford the financial requirements involved. As such, the cycle of access interference perpetuates itself.

      Criterion 3A: Malicious Lying to the Children

      Given their developmental status, children in a disputed divorce situation are quite vulnerable. When one parent decides to attack the other by lying to the children, examples of this type of malicious behavior may include some of the following.

      One divorcing mother told her very young daughter that her father was “not really” her father even though he was.

      An eight year old girl was forced by her mother to hand unpaid bills to her lather when he visited because the mother had falsely told the daughter that the father had not provided any economic means of support to the family.

      One mother falsely told her children that their father had repeatedly beat her up in the past.

      These examples of malicious lying can be contrasted with the more subtle maneuvers typically seen in Parental Alienation Syndrome, such as “virtual allegations” (Cartwright, 1993). Here, the mother setting up a Parental Alienation Syndrome may hint that abuse may have occurred, whereas the individual suffering from Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome falsely claims that abuse has actually occurred.

      Criterion 3B: Malicious Lying to Others

      Individuals suffering from Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome may engage a wide range of other individuals in their attacks upon the ex-husband. However, with this particular criterion, the individual with Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome specifically lies to other individuals in the belligerency against the father. Some examples include the following.

      One furious mother called the president of the (1500 employee) workplace of her divorcing husband, claiming falsely that he was using business property for personal gain and was abusing their mutual children at his work locale.

      One woman falsely told slate officials that her ex-husband was sexually abusing their daughter. The child was immediately taken away from him and his access to her was denied.

      During the course of a custody dispute, one mother falsely informed the guardian, who was investigating the parenting skills of each parent, that the father had physically abused her.

      Snyder (1986) has reported on the difficulty imposed upon legal authorities when confronted with someone who is an excellent liar. Consistent with research on the inability of “specialists” to detect lying (Ekman and O’Sullivan, 1991), a skilled fabricator can be a compelling witness in the courtroom (Snyder, 1986). While sometimes seen in borderline personalities, Snyder (1986) notes that pathological lying (Pseudologia Fantastica) is not restricted to that particular character disorder.

          Criterion 3C: Violating Law to Attack the Husband

      Individuals suffering from Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome have few if any boundaries in their campaign against the divorcing husband. Violations of law are common in many cases, although the laws broken may be relatively minor. However, in some cases, the violations of law may be quite serious.

      One woman deliberately drove her automobile into the house of her ex-husband where their mutual children resided.

      In the midst of a custody battle, one woman broke into the residence of her divorcing husband and stole important business papers.

      An angry divorcing mother called a Christian evangelical television station and pledged $1000, giving the name, address, and phone number of her divorcing Jewish husband as the pledge.

      The above descriptions may remind the reader of certain personality disorders (e.g., antisocial, borderline, sadistic) but these behaviors may be demonstrated by individuals with Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome who do not appear to meet official diagnostic criteria for an Axis II disorder.

      Further, in each of the four examples provided above, none of the Malicious Mothers involved was sentenced for such behavior by a Judge.

      Criterion 4: Not Due to Another Disorder

      In assessing the Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome, it is important to note that many of the above clinical examples seem to have occurred in individuals who had no prior mental disorder diagnosis or treatment. In fact, one mother who engaged in extreme maliciousness toward her divorcing husband had several mental health professionals testify that she was not suffering from any type of mental disorder.

      Clearly, it would seem that individuals who have Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome may or may not have a concomitant mental disorder.

      In the author’s experience, for each mental disorder that might come to mind to account for some of this behavior, an exceptional case presents. For example, in some cases an Adjustment Disorder might seem an appropriate diagnosis, yet one woman still denied her ex-husband visitation 10 years after the divorce. Other cases might suggest a possibility of a personality disorder diagnosis, yet one woman who repeatedly violated the law in attacking her ex-husband, received no personality disorder diagnosis despite being evaluated by masters level and doctoral level examiners. In some instances, Intermittent Explosive Disorder might be considered, yet the anger for many of the mothers does not appear to be intermittent.

      Finally, the reader should appreciate that while diagnostic accuracy for certain psychiatric difficulties is not as good as one would like (e.g., the personality disorders, see Turkat, 1990), the problem is compounded in family law where incompetent mental health examiners sometimes become involved in the judicial process (Turkat, 195)3). Clearly, the relationship between Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome and other mental disorders is a complex one which requires significant investigation.


      The above description of the Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome raises a variety of important clinical, legal, and scientific issues.

      From a clinical perspective, families that involve a Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome are subject to serious episodes of stress and distress. Yet, there is no scientific evidence on how to treat this phenomenon. It is particularly compromised by the fact that many of these cases that appear to meet the proposed diagnostic criteria deny that there is anything wrong with them.

      An additional difficulty is that many therapists are unaware of this pattern of malicious behavior (Heinz and Heinz, 1993). As such, there are therapists who are “fooled” by such cases and, as noted earlier, will come to court testifying that there is nothing wrong with the mother involved.

      From a legal perspective, there are some attorneys who may unintentionally encourage this type of behavior (Gardner, 1989). On the other hand, there are some attorneys who deliberately encourage such behavior, as the financial rewards for them are time dependent. In other words, the more involved the litigation process, the greater the profits for the attorney (Grotman and Thomas, 1990). However, even for the subset of attorneys for whom this may be true, there is a point of diminishing returns. Furthermore, independent of economic considerations, many who become involved with family law courtrooms find that these types of cases are not handled well (Greif, 1985; Levy, 1992).

      The woman who is not disturbed “enough” to lose custody of her children in the courtroom will not have money denied to her because she engages in this behavior; nor will she go to jail. Thus, many clients report significant frustration when they and their children are exposed to this type of behavior, and the courts seem to do little if anything about.

      In a review of pertinent law literature on bias against men in family law proceedings, Tillitski (1992) concluded that there is widespread discrimination. This is well illustrated by one family law Judge’s statement that, “I ain’t never seen the calves follow the bulls, they always follow the cow; therefore, I always give custody to the mamas” (Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System, 1992 p. 742). Similarly, it is noted that visitation rights of fathers are not enforced as rigidly as are child support orders (Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System, 1992). Such bias against men in family law proceedings results in a unique group of fathers who unintentionally become relatively helpless victims of the system (Tillitski, 1992). This situation would seem to reinforce much of the vicious behavior displayed by women suffering from Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome.

      The issue of sex distribution of the disorder certainly needs to be addressed. The overwhelming majority of custodial parents are female (Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System, 1992). Gardner (1989) has noted that Parental Alienation Syndrome appears most commonly in females, although it is possible for a male who has custody of the children to engage in the same type of alienating behaviors.

      The author’s experience with Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome is similar to Gardner’s. However, the present writer has yet to see a case of a father engaging in all of the criteria listed. This does not mean that it is not possible for there to be a “Malicious Father” Syndrome. In fact, Shepard (1992) reports that there is significant abuse of some custodial mothers by non-residential fathers. On the other hand, it should be noted that there are females who are required to pay child support, but we have yet to heara about “Deadbeat Moms.” Given at the present time that a case in which the father met all of the criteria for Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syntlrome has yet to be documented, it appears advisable to await scientific evidence to guide issues of nosologic labeling.

      How prevalent is the Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome? The answer is unknown. Gardner (1989) reports that approximately 90% of all custody battles involve some aspects of parental alienation. Further, Kressel (1985) reviewed data indicating that up to 40% of maternal custodians denied visitation to the ex-husband in order to punish him.

      Relatedly, Arditti (1992) reported that 50% of a sample of divorced fathers (N = 125) indicated that visitation was interfered with by the mother.

      While aspects of parental alienation may be common, it is highly unlikely that such a percentage of maternal custodians would meet all of the criteria for Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome.

      In regard to incidence, it would appear through the title of this syndrome that the malicious behavior is precipitated by the divorce process.

      However, this is clearly an empirical question. While the malicious actions may first be noted during a divorce process, it is possible that maliciousness may have been present earlier but undetected. Research on pre-divorce parental conflict (Enos and Handal, 1986) supports this speculation. Relatedly, it may also be that there are some cases of pre-existing mental disorder that have not been discovered until the stress of the divorce itself unfolds.

      Finally, it should be noted that research on the nature of post-divorce family functioning is beginning to emerge. Some data exist on the role of parental conflict in children’s postdivorce functioning (e.g., Frost and Pakiz, 1990; Furstenberg et al., 1987; Healy, Malley and Stewart, 1990; Kudek, 1988), but studies have yet to appear on the more extreme cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome and Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome.

      The Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome represents an important societal phenomenon.

      The disorder affects children, parents, attorneys, judges, guardians, mental health professionals, and others. Until this phenomenon is explored more thoroughly in the scientific and clinical literature, the problems imposed by individuals suffering from Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome will continue to plague us. Hopefully, the present manuscript will stimulate research so that clinical and legal management guidelines can be developed.

      • Artlitli, J. A. (1992). Factors related to custody, visitation, and child support for divorced fathers: An exploratory analysis. J. Div. Remarr. 17: 23-42.
      • Beal, E. W., and Hockman, D. (1991). Adult Children of Divorce, Delacorte Press, New York.
      • Cartwright, D. F. (1993), Expanding the parameters of parental alienation syndrome. Am. J. Fam. Ther. 21: 205-215.
      • Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System. (1992). Gender and justice in the courts: A report to the supreme court of Georgia. Georgia State Univ. Law Rev. 8: 539-807.
      • Ekman, P., and O’Sullivan, M. (1991). Who can catch a liar? American Psychologist, 46: 913-920.
      • Enos, D. M., and Handal, P. J. (1986). The relation of parental marital status and perceived family conflict to adjustment in white adolescents. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 54: 820-824.
      • Frost, A. K., and Pakiz, U. (1990). The effects of marital disruption on adolescence: Time as a dynamic. Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 60: 544-555.
      • Furstenberg, F. F., Morgan, S. P., and Allison, P. D. (1987). Paternal participation and children’s well being after marital dissolution. Am. Sociological Rev. 52: 695-701.
      • Gardner, R. A. (1987). The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse, Creative Therapeutics, Cresskill, NJ.
      • Gardner, R. A. (1989). Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation, Creative Therapeutics, Cresskill, NJ.
      • Greif, G. L. (1985). Single Fathers, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA.
      • Grutman, R., and Thomas, B. (1990). Lawyers and Thieves. Simon & Schuster, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
      • Healy, J. M., Malley, J. E., and Stewart, A. J. (1900). Children and their fathers after parental separation. Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 60: 531-543.
      • Hetherington, E. N., and Arasteh, J. D. (eds.). (1988). Impact of Divorce, Single Parenting and Step-Parenting on Children, Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.
      • Heinz, H. R., and Heinz, S. A. (1993). Emotional incest: The tragedy of divorcing families. Am. J. Fam. Law 7: 169-174.
      • Hernandez, D. J. (1988). The demographics of divorce and remarriage. In Hetherington, E. M., and Arasteh, J. D. (eds.), Impact of Divorce, Single Parenting, and Step-Parenting on Children, Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 3-22.
      • Hodges, W. E (1991). Interventions for Children of Divorce, (second edition), Wiley, New York.
      • Keane, G. (1990). Florida Divorce Handbook, Pineapple Press, Sarasota, FL.
      • Koel, A., Clark, S. C., Phear, W. P., and Hauser, B. B. (1988). A comparison of joint and sole legal custody agreements. In Hetherington, E. M., and Arasteh, J. D. (eds.), Impact of Divorce, Single Parenting, and Step-Parenting on Children, Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 73-90.
      • Kressel, K. (1985). The Process of Divorce, Basic Books, New York.
      • Kurdek, L. (1988). Custodial mothers’ perceptions of visitation and payment of child support by non-custodial fathers in families with low and high levels of pre-separation interparental conflict. J. Appl. Devel. Psychol. 9: 315-328. Laosa, L. N. (1988). Ethnicity and single parenting in the United Stales. In Hetherington, E. M., and Arasteh, J. D. (eds.), Impact of Divorce, Single Parenting, and Step-Parenting on Children, Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 23-49.
      • Shepard, N. (1992). Child-visiting and domestic abuse. Child Welfare 71: 357-367.
      • Snyder, S. (1986). Pseudologia Fantastica in the borderline patient. Am. J. Psychiatry 143: 1287-1289.
      • Tillitski C. J. (1992). Fathers and child custody: Issues, trends, and implications for counseling. J. Ment. Health Counsel. 14: 351-361.
      • Turkat I. D. (1990). The Personality Disorders: A Psychological Approach to Clinical Management, Pergamon, New York.
      • Turkal, I. D. (1993). Questioning the mental health expert’s custody report. Am. J. Fam. Law 7: 175-179.

      Ira Daniel Turkat, Florida Institute of Psychology and University of Florida College of Medicine,1225 Avenida Del Circo, Venice, Florida 34285.

      child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, education, family, foster care, General, government, system failure
      Forgotten Children

      My apologies for being stagnant as of late.  Life has been happening, and it hasn’t always been easy..

      Anyhow, this article is a few years old but the problems aren’t – they continue today.

      I hail Comptroller Strayhorn for the work she did in “Forgotten Children” and if you have not read the report and update, I urge you to do so.

      Comptroller Strayhorn Laments “Forgotten Children”

      In State’s Foster Care System, Outlines Massive Overhaul

      Replace State Caseworkers with Enforcement Staff, Yank Licenses of Poor Caregivers, Bring Care Standards to Humane Levels

      (Austin)–Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn today called for a massive overhaul of the state’s foster care system in a special report, “Forgotten Children,” which details a widespread crisis in Texas’ foster care system.

      Photos available Outdoor Urinal at Therapeutic Camp (1MB pdf) Children’s Shoes (1MB pdf) Open Fire Pit and Sleeping Quarters (1MB pdf)

      “They are everybody’s children and nobody’s children,” Strayhorn said. “They are the forgotten children in the foster care system. Some of them find homes with caring foster parents, or in treatment centers with experienced and caring providers, and some do not. Some children have been moved among 30, 40, or even more all-too-temporary ‘homes.’ Some have been sexually, physically and emotionally abused while in the system; some have run away and joined the ranks of the missing. A few have even died at the hands of those entrusted with their care.

      “This report gives these children something they need — a voice,” she said. “This investigation turned this One Tough Grandma into One Heartbroken Grandma.”

      “The truth is that some of these children are no better off in the care of the state than they were in the hands of abusive and negligent parents,” Strayhorn said.

      Among the dozens of recommendations are:

      • Eliminate the inefficient dual system of foster care — one that is run by the state — creating a conflict of interest in which the agency regulates itself.
      • Direct and redirect $193.9 million in savings to better care for children by replacing state caseworkers with independent oversight enforcement staff.
      • Move, immediately, children out of all therapeutic camps that do not meet licensing standards for Permanent Therapeutic Camps.
      • Raise standards across the board to humane levels.
      • Revoke the licenses of facilities that have ongoing problems affecting the health, safety and well being of children.
      • Educate foster care children about free higher education tuition eligibility.
      • Develop a Foster Grandma and Foster Grandpa program to mentor and support the children.

      “I am appalled at the conditions too many of our foster children must endure,” Strayhorn said. “I challenge any defender of the current system’s status quo to put their child or their grandchild in some of the places I’ve seen for one day, much less for a lifetime.”


      Responsibility for the broken foster care system rests with state government and the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (DPRS), now called the Department of Family and Protective Services.

      In fiscal 2003 alone, 26,133 children were in foster care. The state pays from $20 per day per child all the way up to $277 per day for a child with complex needs.

      “The agency tolerates vast disparities in the quality of the services it purchases,” Strayhorn said. “It uses taxpayer dollars inefficiently and fails to take advantage of federal funding. It offers caregivers a perverse financial incentive to keep children in expensive, restrictive placements.

      “I saw children on alarming amounts of psychotropic medications and children who have not seen their caseworker in months,” she said.

      “We must end the current system that has the fox guarding the hen house,” Strayhorn said. “We cannot tolerate a system where regulators regulate themselves.”

      Problems in DPRS include inefficient use of taxpayer dollars, inadequate licensing and contracting standards, ineffective investigations, heavy caseloads and high employee turnover, which prevent the agency from closely watching over the children in their care.

      “I saw filthy living conditions, make-shift outhouses, unsanitary food storage, in so-called outdoor camps where children must sleep in sleeping bags – no walls, no fans, no heat – for months and months, and in many cases, year after year. That’s not care. That’s cruelty. That’s not educating. That’s endangering,” Strayhorn said.

      Strayhorn’s report uncovers the harsh realities of the current foster care system and makes key recommendations aimed at improving the entire system. She recommends that the state raise the bar on quality, make the foster care system more accountable, ensure the health and safety of all foster care children, and provide a brighter future for foster children.

      Strayhorn said she did find facilities that did treat children well.

      “In each and every instance where children were getting the best care, the care givers are working closely and openly with the community,” Strayhorn said. “Each facility needs that close relationship, operating in the sunshine, and support from the communities they serve. Without that relationship, the children suffer.”

      “It has been said that any society can be judged by how it treats its weakest members. My investigation shows that Texas can and must be judged harshly,” Strayhorn said. “Foster care in this state has been studied time and time again; reports are issued, promises are made, and the children continue to suffer. That’s unacceptable.”

      Strayhorn said she planned to monitor changes made, or not made, as a result of this special report and “for the sake of our forgotten children, I will report back to the people of Texas, in six weeks and six months and as long as it takes to fix this broken system and save all of our children.”

      adoption, child, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, education, family, foster care, foster child, healing, love, system failure
      How to Bond With Your (Foster) Child

      Top 10 Five Minute Bonding Activities

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      These activities are not for every foster/adoptive parent or every foster/adoptive child. Only do what is comfortable for you and your foster/adopted child.
      Keep in mind:

      • Child’s Age – Chronological and Emotional
      • Child’s History of Abuse and/or Neglect
      • Comfort Levels

      Please note that I’m not promoting these activities as a way to create an instant bond between you and your child. Bonding is a process that takes time. These activities are ideas that will help start the process of bonding.

      1. Brushing Hair

      This can be a great and easy way to spend time with a child. It also involves a safe touch, which is so important to creating a loving bond.

      2. Read a Story

      Not only will you be increasing your bond by spending time together, you’ll be increasing the child’s vocabulary and other literary skills.

      3. Sing Songs

      We used to have a tradition of singing songs before tucking our daughter into bed, favorites included Old Macdonald, London Bridge, and many different Sunday School songs. Also try songs like “This Little Piggy” where each line of the song is sang as you tickle a toe, involves appropriate, safe touching with a child who may be fearful of touch due to past abuse.

      4. Clapping Games and Rhymes

      Remember the games played on elementary playgrounds? If not here are some web sites with words. Fun activity involving safe touch.

      5. Bed Time Routine

      A routine can include tucking in with a soft blanket, hugs and kisses, a short story, song, or prayer. Keep in mind the comfort level of all involved. If a history of sexual abuse exists or you don’t know the child’s history, protect yourself against allegations by having another adult with you at bed time.

      6. Staring Contest

      Maintain direct eye contact, the first person to look away or blink loses. A fun game for older children and a great way to have eye contact which helps build attachment. Be sure the child does not interpret this activity as threatening or intimidating and understands that it is a game.

      7. Hand Games

      More safe touching activities like Rock Paper Scissors, Bubble Gum Bubble Gum in a Dish, or Thumb Wrestling. Some of the above links will take you to pages filled with more game ideas.

      8. Paint Finger and Toe Nails

      More appropriate for girls – this is a sweet way to spend five minutes. Consider allowing the child to paint your nails.

      9. Rocking

      This is one bonding activity in which you must calculate emotional age, history, and comfort levels. My son was 12 when he came to us as a foster child, but he needed and welcomed being held and rocked. I spoke to his therapist before rocking him and had no trouble in doing so. He was extremely small for his age, which made rocking him easier. Be aware of sexual arousal with older children and activities that involve such closeness.

      10. Lotioning

      Applying lotion to a child’s hands and feet can also be part of a bedtime routine. Children of color will benefit from having lotion applied to their legs, arms, face, and back. Caution: Consider child’s sexual abuse history, age, and comfort level with this activity. Some abused children can misinterpret different kinds of touch. Be aware of sexual arousal. If you sense that any activity is upsetting to the child – stop. Document the incident, tell the therapist at your next meeting.

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      child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, education, family, foster care, foster parent, government, law, legal, missing child, murder, system failure
      Caseworkers changed, destroyed records in starvation case


      Documents: Counties changed, destroyed records in starvation case


      Caseworkers from two neighboring counties and a state agency doctored or destroyed records pertaining to a 4-year-old girl whose starved body was found stuffed into a picnic cooler, according to a newspaper’s review of court documents.

      One caseworker testified in a pretrial deposition that her supervisor ordered her to burn records pertaining to the girl, Kristen Tatar.

      “And make sure that you sit down with a glass of wine and a box of Kleenex when you burn Kristen’s” records, Penn State Cooperative Extension worker Pam Walmsley testified in a deposition detailing her supervisor’s instructions. “And get it out of your system and move on.”

      Tatar’s 11 1/2-pound body was found stuffed into the cooler that had been set on a curb for trash pickup behind her Armstrong County home in August 2003. Her parents, James Tatar and Janet Crawford, are serving life sentences for starving her to death.

      Criminal investigators determined the couple grossly underfed the girl, who was often tied to a chair with a pacifier in her mouth and rarely bathed or nurtured.

      The horrific details of Tatar’s life and death are scheduled to receive a second, more detailed airing in April when a federal judge in Pittsburgh hears a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the girl’s aunt, Cathy Fondrk. Fondrk, of Hyde Park, has adopted Kristen’s surviving brother and sued her parents and various child welfare agencies on behalf of the boy.

      The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday reported that documents filed in the case reveal that Armstrong County officials admitted that they added details to Kristen’s case file after police found her body.

      But Armstrong County officials are convinced that Westmoreland County officials also doctored records. Armstrong County has hired a chemist who will testify that dates and signatures on various forms don’t match, based on his analysis of the ink used.

      A key issue in the case is whether Westmoreland officials should have warned Armstrong County that the girl was at “high” risk for abuse, not “moderate” or “low” as various Westmoreland records reflected.

      Fondrk sued caseworkers and officials in Armstrong County, where the girl died; the Westmoreland Children’s Bureau and some of its caseworkers who supervised Kristen case before her parents moved to Armstrong County in 2001; and the Penn State Cooperative Extension, whose employees helped Westmoreland County supervise the Tatar case.

      Westmoreland County officials got a judge to declare the girl dependent and in county custody due to neglect, and twice placed her in foster care in 1999 and 2000.

      Generally, the Armstrong County defendants contend Westmoreland County never relinquished jurisdiction in the case, even after Kristen’s parents moved with her to Armstrong County. Westmoreland defendants have argued in court papers that they did the best they could to supervise the girl, but were not ultimately responsible for her death in another county because Armstrong County caseworkers had begun supervising the case by then.

      The state Department of Welfare in 2003 found that Westmoreland caseworkers failed to monitor whether Kristen was getting adequate medical attention and that “lax supervision” and “infrequency” of caseworker visits led to the girl’s death.


      Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

      child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, education, family, foster care, General, government, healing, missing child, system failure
      Register Your Case Against the Department of Social and Health Services
      A lawsuit has been filed and is seeking class action status against the department alleging violations of constitutional rights. Nine Latina child care workers claim the state came into their homes and seized personal records in search of ‘phantom children’. The lawsuit also alleges discrimination against child care workers on the basis of ethnicity and language.

      Register your Department of Social and Health Services Case

      If you feel you qualify for damages or remedies that might be awarded in a possible class action or lawsuit, please click the link below to submit your complaint. By submitting this form, you are asking lawyers to contact you. You are under no obligation to accept their services. Lawyers are usually paid out of the proceeds of the settlement or verdict rendered.

      Please click here for a free evaluation of your case
      Columbia Legal Services – Joe Morrison

      “Its ALmost Tuesday” and its blogowner  is merely providing you with a link to register your Department of Social and Health Services case; we make no promises, form no opinions as to how your case may be evaluated; and we are not lawyers nor giving legal advice.
      child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, education, family, foster care, government, system failure
      YakimA County, Washington: FOSTER ABUSE

      Yakima County, WA

      Yakima County, WA: (May-26-07) Tim Farris, a Bellingham, WA lawyer and critic of Washington’s foster-care system, has been known to repeatedly file lawsuits against the State Department of Social and Health Services. He filed one more lawsuit against the department recently, on behalf of injured children, accusing the department and social workers of negligence over the sexual abuse of an 8-year-old foster child. Farris said the abuse occurred in the summer of 2002, shortly after the 8-year-old was placed in the home of a new foster mother in Ellensburg. Also in the home was an older boy that Farris said had a documented history of sexually aggressive behavior. He said DSHS failed to properly train the foster mother and did not even warn her that the older boy had such problems. In a related twist, a social worker assigned to investigate the abuse allegations was fired by a supervisor who was the husband of the supervisor of the social worker who made the placement. As part of the settlement that Farris reached with the county, the sexual abuse lawsuit was resolved with a $290,000 payout. [YAKIMA HERALD: FOSTER ABUSE]
      education, family
      Mattel Toy Recall
      Washington, DC: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that Mattel has received more than 400 reports of magnets coming loose in products such as Polly Pocket, Doggie Day Care, Barbie & Tanner, Batman and “Sarge” Die Cast toy cars.

      Unfortunately, under the Bush administration, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission staff has been cut more than 10 percent in recent years. This leaves fewer regulators available to monitor the growing flood of imported toys from China.

      9 million toys recalled
      There have been several reports of serious injuries to children who swallowed magnets from the toys. According to the Commission, “all three suffered intestinal perforations that required surgery.”

      Childrens toysAs a result, Mattel has issued a recall affecting more than 9 million toys, citing magnets that could be swallowed and possible problems with lead paint.

      Its Fisher-Price division recalled 1.5 million preschool toys from a different supplier earlier this month.

      Safety agency under-funded
      The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission “doesn’t have the staff that they need to try to get ahead of this problem,” according to Janell Mayo Duncan, senior counsel at the Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports. “They need more money and resources to do more checks.”

      The Commission is a government agency designed to “protect the public from risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under [its] jurisdiction”, including appliances and children’s toys. It was created in 1972 by Congress under the Consumer Product Safety Act, to protect the public “against unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products.”

      Unfortunately, the current presidential administration has been whittling away at the Commission’s funding, leaving it with scarce resources to monitor the millions of imports entering the US market.

      Made in China
      More than 80 percent of toys on U.S. store shelves are manufactured in China. Last year, China exported $7 billion worth of toys to more than 160 countries.

      Representatives in China have defended the industry’s safety record there. “Although there are a few problems with some made-in-China toys, generally the safety quality is worthy of being trusted,” the official Xinhua news agency stated in a recent release, citing unnamed officials from two industry associations.

      Critics are unconvinced, however, charging that American companies have shipped their manufacturing operations to China in order to cut costs, at the expense of safety standards.

      Julie Vallese, a Consumer Product Safety Commission spokeswoman said “Is there a concern that there are more products coming in from China and making sure they live up to the standards we expect? Yes, there is.”

      The New York Times reports that “China was source of all toys recalled this year.”

      Recall lists online
      Concerned parents can find comprehensive recall information online at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission [CPSC].

      Product recall and warning information is also available at [PARENTS MAGAZINE].

      Advocate: US companies “should be held liable”
      Across the country, lawsuits are being filed on behalf of parents against Mattel and other toy companies, to compensate families and to ensure that companies take steps to prevent more accidents.

      “These are items that children are supposed to be playing with,” said Prescott Carlson, co-founder of a Web site called the Imperfect Parent, which includes a section that tracks recalls of toys and other baby products.

      “It should be at a point where companies in the United States that are importing these items are held liable.”

      child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, education, family, foster care, government, system failure
      Laws on notification of child abuse/neglect – and false notifications/allegations

      What are the laws on notification of child abuse/neglect? What about falsely accusing someone of child abuse?

      Child abuse is very serious, and false allegations or allegations made in bad faith ruin not just the target’s life, but the child’s….

      Stricter enforcement of policies regarding the false allegations made by so many should be paramount.

      Reporting Penalties

      To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Reporting Penalties (PDF – 605 KB) publication.

      FAILURE TO REPORT – Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 261.109 (West 1996)
      A person commits an offense if the person has cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect and knowingly fails to report in accordance with the reporting laws. An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

      FALSE REPORTING – Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 261.107 (West Supp. 1999)
      A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally makes a report under the reporting laws that the person knows is false or lacks factual foundation. An offense under this law is a Class A misdemeanor unless it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has previously been convicted for the same offense, in which case the offense is a State jail felony.

      A finding by a court in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship that a report made under the reporting laws before or during the suit was false or lacking factual foundation may be grounds for the court to modify an order providing for possession of or access to the child who was the subject of the report by restricting further access to the child by the person who made
      the report.

      The appropriate county prosecuting attorney shall be responsible for the prosecution of an offense under this section.

      child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, education, family, foster care, government, healing, missing child, poetry, system failure
      Vote for Its Almost Tuesday and spread awareness

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      cps, education, family, foster care, government, system failure
      This problem should have been solved long before anyone got hurt

      Sign this petition

      To: U.S Congress

      Our Families are under attack!

      It is time for change. Children’s Protective Services and the Family Court System are out of control. In the Best Interest of the Child has turned into for the Best Interest of the Budget. We call for a full investigation into the corrupt Children’s Protective Services and the Family Court System. We ask that the Family Court System and the Children’s Protective Services be held accountable for their actions. We want CPS and Family Court Reform! We ask for the American Family to be protected.
      Only by the voice of the people will we make a difference. Please help us to save our families by signing your name and giving yourself a voice.

      The Undersigned

      View Current Signatures

      • Please help save my children before it is too late, as well as the other families in our situation!!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!

      • My girls 3 & 5, are being sexually abused 3 days a week, during their Fathers parenting time, by his brother thier Uncle.

      • for the past eight months I have done everything legal that I possibly can.

      • Nobody will do anything to help, and they do not believe me because every time my children are taken somewhere to talk they get afraid a clam up, which is normal.

      • Cps has taken parenting rights away from the girls

      • Father due to physical abuse but because he is in law enforment it didn’t last for long due to a corrupt small town! I have to drop them off in the morning, just like every sunday. CPS needs to stop terrorizing our children,

      • CPS should be charged with harassment, organized crime under the RICO Act, terroristic threat to name a few for what you do to children and their familiess

      • I lost my baby to cps and they need to understand how depressing it is! I miss my daughter majorly! I protest to cps. make that organization go away! help save our kids

      • Change the adoption bonus to reunification bonus or at least make it worth more money for states to keep families intake.It is time for a change and that time is now!

      • Please stop the destruction of our families and do it for Benjamin,

      • Please stop the corruption in the judicial, legal, and the child welfare system and destruction of our families due to lies and deceit by CPS.

      • Edie, and Nicky Clawson. They are my younger brothers and sister. They have been abused, drugged, brainwashed, and lied to by CPS, CASA, CAC, the legal system, judicial system, and the child welfare system.

      • Please reform CPS. I suffered abuse, was forced on psychotropic drugs, my civil rights violated and also my legal rights until I came home to my brother and parents on February 16, 2005. If I had fostered out of CPS custody I would not have finished high school or even had a chance at college. Because I came home, I will graduate this coming May and this fall will be attending college. CPS does not care about the children only the money they make off of them. Do it for Benjamin, Edie, and Nicky Clawson before their lives are completely destroyed.

      • Please clean up the horrible corrupt office in Paris, Lamar Co. , TX.they need to leave familes alone and stop ripping them apart for nothing

      • I believe that children are of such importance that each step taken by any social worker should be analyzed and reviewed by an independent party. Yes this may increase the cost initially but over time we will require less jails, less drug programs as these children see themselves as valued future leaders and not a pawn in a flawed political game. Put all financial assitance on hold from the parent you deserve no financial assistance to care for a child that is not in your home. Parents make a choice! I have seen and worked with parents who want to blame the state for taking the children away but refuse to follow the path that has been laid out for you to get your kids back if you want them do it your in control of your own choices reform starts with you.Please reform CPS nationwide and also in Lamar County, Texas. Do it in the name of Benjamin, Edie, and Nicky Clawson who are still in CPS custody after three years and the fight still continues and also for all the children of Lamar County who have been wrongfully taken from their parents with no reason to remove the children. All because of greed and coveting of our children by state officials and other people. There also needs to be better trained workers in this field not untrained workers.

      • Please stop the drugging of the children. There is no basis for this. These people are turning our children into drug addicts just like the ones they claim they are trying to get off the streets. Please stop the collusion of CPS,CASA, CAC, and the legal system in the area and also the local law enforcement. Parents don’t stand a chance against them or their lies and deceit.

      • Please repeal the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 and quit giving the states incentives for breaking up families. Please give the states incentives for keeping families together.

      • Make it right for all families and children- Stop the insanity

      • with as corrupt a system as is currently available in Washington state, more harm is being cause to the children and families that anyone has a right to. To protect children, but not to harm them is the goal. No one governmental agency has so much power to ruin a family as does CPS. It matters not what proof exists but the biases of the people working for an agency. No unbiased checks or balances exist. Give the families of America a fighting chance and reform the Child Protection Laws in these our United States.

      • CPS sucks, and they are all liers.

      • I Pray you take a look at this over powered system. Children need there decent God give famlys. Bless you

      • This system has to much power it needs to be changed. They took our 6 babies and made promises after promises after we did every thang they told us and even passed all there mental test to the lie test but still we never got our kids back. We have not saw our little ones in over a year.We Love our children and want them back. Our son had cancer and as of the last time we saw him he had only seen his cancer doctor twice . If you dont believe any of us check it our for your selfs. They leave the kids that our truly in danger anfd take the incent just to make money on our kids. We Pray you will listen not only to our cries but to our childrens cries.Be the Angel from the Lord and put a stop to the stilling of our children please.God Bless

      • Yes, we certainly need to get this monster stopped


      • It is sickening, especially as an EMT, to witness time and time again CPS workers monetary greed take precedence over the welfare of the children and families that they are supposed to be working to protect.