Tag: psychology

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Parental Alienation Taints Relationships and is Abuse

When Ties to a Parent Are Cut by the Other

Amy J. L. Baker, left, at the Englewood Public Library. She chronicled the stories of 40 adults who as children were turned against a parent.

Credit…Sylwia Kapuscinski for The New York Times
By Michael Winerip
Sept. 23, 2007

THIS is a nice moment in Joe Rabiega’s life. At 31, he has a good job as a research coordinator for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is happily married and feels blessed that his wife of five years, Tiffany, is pregnant with their first child.

His hope is to give that child a happier upbringing than the one he had. Mr. Rabiega’s parents divorced when he was 8, and though they were supposed to share custody, he said, his father, a truck driver with a drinking problem, did everything possible to turn him against his mother and eventually kept him from seeing her.

“He bullied my mother into giving up custody,” Mr. Rabiega said. When he was still allowed to visit his mother, he’d have to stay by the phone to take a call from his father at 4 every afternoon and 8 each evening. He said his father trained him to spy on his mother’s socializing and spending habits.

“His ability to manipulate her was so lopsided, it never got to the point where a court heard it,” he said in a phone interview. “His threats of violence made it clear she’d never get me.”

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For several years, he said, until his late teens, he didn’t see his mother and believed everything his father said about her.

“He took me to the police station and told them my mother abandoned me, even though it was completely not true,”

Mr. Rabiega said. “He had the entire neighborhood convinced that my mother no longer wanted me.

“He had me convinced without him, I had nobody,” Mr. Rabiega said. “When he’d been drinking, he’d get out his gun and threaten to kill himself if I left him.”

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It wasn’t until Mr. Rabiega was an adult that he began to see his mother in a different light, he said. “She was a seamstress in a garment factory who didn’t graduate from high school. She was weak, no one to guide her, no money, no education, no resources to fight for me.” At one point, he said, she attempted suicide.


Mr. Rabiega is one of 40 research subjects in a new book by Amy J. L. Baker, about parents who turn a child against the other parent, “Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome.” Dr. Baker, the research director of the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection at the New York Foundling, does not identify the subjects by their real names, but Mr. Rabiega (called Jonah in the book) agreed to let his name be used for this column. “If this can help people, it’s worth it,” he said. “I really compare what I went through to people who are kidnapped and brainwashed.”

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Most people would agree that one parent has the power to turn a child against the other parent; however, classifying the behavior as a mental health syndrome, as Dr. Baker does, has met with considerable criticism in the past.

“It’s been a very controversial area,” said Dr. Baker, 48, who lives in Teaneck, N.J., and has a doctorate in psychology from Teachers College at Columbia.

Dr. Baker’s book is written in an academic style and sticks closely to the stories of the 40 adult subjects, ages 19 to 67, who describe being wrongfully manipulated by a parent.

It is an attempt to take the sensationalism out of the subject. Accusations of such manipulation have been an issue during high-profile celebrity custody battles, like the ones involving Woody Allen and Mia Farrow and Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.

There is none of that in Dr. Baker’s book, which includes a seven-page bibliography of scholarly research. Instead, she tells the stories of ordinary people like Mr. Rabiega, struggling into their adult years with the damage they describe from having been manipulated into hating a parent.

While most research has focused on children, Dr. Baker looks at these children once they’ve become adults. A key question she set out to answer: Do any of these kids grow up and figure it out? “That I can answer yes,” she said. “I can’t say how prevalent it is, but I have found lots of people.”

Some of what she found undercut earlier research. When therapists first described the behavior in the 1980s, they talked about it as manipulation by mothers to punish fathers. This drew criticism from some women’s groups, who dismissed the syndrome as something concocted by lawyers for abusive fathers trying to improve their custody chances.

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Dr. Baker said her research — both for the book and with several hundred subjects over the last five years — indicates a mother or father is equally likely to do the manipulating. It is “truly 50-50,” she said.

Other patterns emerged from her 40 subjects: 75 percent were the products of divorce, and 58 percent were divorced themselves;

70 percent suffered depression; 35 percent developed problems with drugs or alcohol.

And perhaps the saddest: Half of the 28 who had children said they were estranged from their own children.

Dr. Baker believes the behavior is prevalent enough to qualify as a syndrome in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of the American Psychiatric Association. While that’s not going to happen soon — the manual won’t be revised again until 2012 — she hopes her research might cause social workers and therapists who investigate custody cases to be more aware.

“If you believe it’s possible for a child to be brainwashed by one parent, the job of a custody evaluator is a lot harder,” she said.

The challenges in such cases can be daunting. How do you know if the scorned parent is being unfairly victimized or if that parent is abusive and deserves to be scorned? “It’s a lot of investigating, and there’s no one definitive tool,” Dr. Baker said.


Some of that investigative muscle is missing from her own research. Dr. Baker did not interview parents for their version of events, nor did she cite independent sources like court records that could corroborate the stories.

“I did what I could,” she said. “This is just one study. It’s a very new field and there’s little research. The point is to give voice to these people who have not been heard.”

It is also hard to get people to talk publicly about family dysfunction. Mr. Rabiega was willing to speak partly because both his parents are dead.

He said that when he was in his 20s, he again developed a relationship with his mother, but that his father’s “brainwashing” had been so strong, he couldn’t entirely overcome it.

“It was hard for me to fully love my mom,” he said. “If she needed me to do something or needed money, I didn’t want to and I’d get angry. My father implanted a disgust and disdain in me for my mother that wouldn’t go away and tainted our relationship.”

Ten years of therapy helped, he said, as did his wife and finding religion. “It helped when I reconnected with my mom, she held nothing against me,” he said. “She reiterated it was my father’s fault, and I had no choice.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “I realized a lot after my mother died.”

cps, foster care
The Truth About Aging Out of Foster Care

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When this occurs, the child will be placed into the foster care system.

More than 250,000 children are placed into the foster care system in the United States every year.

Aging Out of Foster Care

We are making some promises to these children when we place them into foster care. We are telling them that they are getting the chance to create a better life for themselves.

They are promised a safe home where they can have a family that can be called their own.

For many children, these promise are just empty words that have no meaning.

As the statistics show, many foster kids are aging out of the system and have nowhere to turn.

  • More than 23,000 children will age out of the US foster care system every year.

  • After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.

  • Only 1 out of every 2 foster kids who age out of the system will have some form of gainful employment by the age of 24.

  • There is less than a 3% chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a college degree at any point in their life.

  • 7 out of 10 girls who age out of the foster care system will become pregnant before the age of 21.

  • The percentage of children who age out of the foster care system and still suffer from the direct effects of PTSD: 25%.

  • Tens of thousands of children in the foster care system were taken away from their parents after extreme abuse.

  • 8% of the total child population of the United States is represented by reports of abuse that are given to authorities in the United States annually.

  • In 2015, more than 20,000 young people — whom states failed to reunite with their families or place in permanent homes.

One of the biggest problems that social workers face today is a stigma that people have regarding what they do.

Many people see child protection workers as vengeful, hateful people who just want to take kids away from their parents and families.

The sad truth is that over 6 million children are at a high risk of being abused by their families annually and this is represented by the over 3 million reports of possible abuse that are filed every year.

We know that children thrive in families and that is why we want kids to be placed into foster care instead of an institution.

The problem is that the temporary solution of foster care has become a permanent solution and 10% of the kids that are placed into the system age out of it without every really getting the chance to heal.

Is Violence Against Children A Hidden American Epidemic?

  • substantiated child abuse will become the victim of abuse again within 6 months.

If 7 out of 10 foster kids say that they want to pursue college, then why are we finding ways to limit them?

A college education allows for a number of advantages that can help these kids find happiness, even though their childhood may not have been as fun as some of their peers.

These kids want to change their lives, yet a vast majority of them will never even get to see college.

Only 6% of kids who age out of the system will attend an institution of higher learning and only 50% of them will be able to graduate with a degree.

What is the end result?

These kids give up hope, stop caring, and are at a higher risk of repeating the cycle of violence with their own children one day that led to their placement in foster care in the first place.

Foster Kids Aren’t Always Placed Into Foster Homes

  • Despite the promises of the foster care system, as of 2012, more than 58,000 children in the U.S. foster care system were placed in institutions or group homes.

  • 75% of women and 33% of men receive government benefits to meet basic needs after they age out of the system.

  • 1 out of every 2 kids who age out of the system will develop a substance dependence.

  • States spent a mere 1.2-1.3% of available federal funds on parent recruitment and training services even though 22% of children in foster care had adoption as their goal.

  • Adopted children make-up roughly 2% of the total child population under the age of 18.

  • Children who are adopted make up over 10% of the total referrals for child therapy.

  • 55% of these children who wind up being legally emancipated by the foster care system have had 3 or more placements over their childhood.

  • 33% of children had changed elementary schools 5 or more times, causing them to fall behind academically and lose friends that they had made in the process.

  • There is a direct correlation to the age of a child who enters foster care and their likelihood of being successfully discharged to a permanent home instead of being legally emancipated.

There is more than just the problem of worthless parents when it comes to the modern foster care system – parents who abuse their children are worthless.

There is also the problem of foster families not being able to access the resources that kids need because of a lack of funding… or a lack of desire to do so.

Kids who are taken out of violent homes not only face the struggle of missing their parents and living in a strange environment, but there may be PTSD and other mental health issues present as well.

Foster kids will blow out of homes because the tools aren’t in place to help them cope and there isn’t enough patience within the foster family to allow for the natural grieving process to take place.

When parents, foster families, and the system at large fail these kids and they age out of the system,

is it any wonder why so many struggle to make their way in the world?

Are Things Getting Worse Instead of Better?

  • In 2012, there were approximately 679,000 instances of confirmed child maltreatment from the over 3 million reports generated.
  • The overall national child victim rate was 9.2 child victims per 1,000 children in the US population.
  • State child victim rates vary dramatically in the United States, ranging from 1.2 child victims per 1,000 children to 19.6 child victims per 1,000 children.
  • African-American children had the highest rates of victimization at 14.2 victims per 1,000 children in that racial group’s overall child population.
  • Asian children had the lowest rates, with 1.7 victims per 1,000.
  • Between 2002 and 2012, the number of children in care on the last day of the fiscal year decreased by 24.2%, or by over 130,000 children.
  • The annual rate of children who are discharged out of the foster system without a successful placement: 13%.
  • Children with a diagnosed disability of any kind, including a learning disability, are twice as likely to age out of the foster care system.
  • Kids who enter the foster care system after the age of 12 have a 2 in 5 chance of being legally emancipated at the age of 18 from the system.
  • More than 20% of the children who are currently in foster care are aged 3 or younger.
  • African-American children make up 20% of the foster care population, which is about double the amount of maltreatment reports that are generated for their racial demographic annually.
  • More than 40% of the children who reach the age of 18 while in foster care were in the system for more than 3 years.

Even when foster care isn’t the best solution, it is often still better than the maltreatment that was being experienced at home.

In the United States, the median measurements of child maltreatment are over 5% annually.

In foster car, the median measurement for maltreatment is just 0.32%.

In practical terms, this means that a child in the US is about 15x more likely to be abused in their home then in a foster home.

From this standpoint, we can honestly say that we are providing a safer environment for children, but we need to do more than just provide safety.

We need to be able to provide areas of growth so that these kids can have the tools they need in order to find success in the pursuit of their own dream

What Can We Do To Help Facilitate Change?

  • In 2012, only 4.5% of children who were adopted out of foster care were placed in the system for fewer than 12 months.

  • The percentage of children adopted in less than 12 months out of foster care in 2009: 3.6%.

  • More than 85% of children in foster care have had a minimum of two different placement settings within the first 12 months of being placed in the system.

  • 11% of children who are placed into a permanent setting outside of foster care will re-enter the system within 12 months.

  • Only 32.6% of adoptions from foster care occur within the first 2 years of a child being placed into the system.

  • Less than 70% of the cases of founded child maltreatment had a response time that was less than 48 hours for an intervention.

  • 30.4% of incidents were responded to by caseworkers in 24 hours or less.

  • 73% of the cases of child maltreatment are due to neglect.

  • Kids between the ages of 0-7 make up more than half of all child maltreatment reports that are generated in the United States every year.

  • 48.9% of the reports are generated from families that are Caucasian.

  • More than 6% of children who are placed into foster care have been sexually abused by a parent or family member.

child custody, cps
Are you dealing with CPS or a Child Custody Case? Help is Available!

During this holiday season, It’s Almost Tuesday wishes the best in all things for children and their families.

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We wish there were no bad foster homes.

We wish CPS had no over zealous case workers.

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We wish couples stayed happily married with no divorces.

We wish there was no such thing as parental alienation syndrome or parental kidnapping.

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We wish for the end of alot of bad things, but there is a reality that wishes can’t erase.

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If you are facing CPS, or a divorce and children are involved there IS HELP AVAILABLE.

Do you know someone in a custody dispute?

What a better gift to give a loved one who is facing a child custody case or court battle but peace of mind?

We want to help you find the answers that you need to fight for your rights and your kids and succeed.

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Win in court.
Check out our new page with a library of books and guides on just about any topics you could think of.

Tell your friends.

The kids who need it the most will thank you one day.

It’s our wish that we would all be nice to each other in every way possible, but if you have no choice and nice isn’t an option, be ready.
GET HELP NOW!

awareness, child abuser, cps, custody, false allegations, family, home, love, parental alienation syndrome
Backlash Against Parental Alienation: Denial and Skepticism About Psychological Abuse

By Richard A Warshack, Psychologist and expert on P.A.S. @richardwarshack

This post is in honor of Parental Alienation Awareness Day—April 25.

A boy wrote a letter to his mother telling her that she belonged in a mental institution, that she was nothing to him, that she was nothing but a screw-up, that she was sick, selfish, that he wanted to have nothing to do with her or any of her relatives, and that he hoped she died a horrible, painful death. In other words, this boy disowned his mother with the most aggressive, vile, and hateful language.

The father’s attorney attempted to minimize the child’s alienation by claiming that the boy merely loved his dad a lot more than he loved his mom.

Attorneys spin the facts to zealously advocate for their clients’ positions. We expect it.

But what excuse do others have for denying the reality that a child can become irrationally alienated from a good and formerly loved parent? And for denying the reality that the child’s unjustified rejection of one parent can be traced to the other parent’s relentless manipulations to drive a wedge between child and parent?

How could anyone who works in the family law system deny the reality — affirmed nearly unanimously by legal and mental health professionals — that children can be influenced by one parent to turn against the other parent?

Encouraging a child to align with one parent against the other, and teaching a child to hate a parent for no good reason, is cruel. If a teacher did this to a student, bad-mouthed a child’s parents and systematically undermined the child’s love and respect for her parents, that teacher would be out of a job.

“Stealing the soul,” is how I described this process in DIVORCE POISON—enlisting children as agents in their own deprivation and violating children’s trust.

Leading authorities on divorce agree. Dr. Joan Kelly and Dr. Janet Johnston held no punches: “Whether such parents are aware of the negative impact on the child, these behaviors of the aligned parent (and his or her supporters) constitute emotional abuse of the child.”

Society has a checkered track record in recognizing and protecting children from abuse. Denial and minimization intermittently subdue awareness and acknowledgment. It has been this way with physical abuse, with sexual abuse, and with psychological abuse. So we should not be surprised that a subculture of parents and professionals denies that children can be manipulated to reject a parent for no good reason—or that they go so far as to claim that most children will turn against the parent who is abusing them in these ways.

How do deniers rationalize their apparent blindness?
Here are five strategies.

1. Deflect attention from the reality of divorce poison and its destructive impact with debates about whether parental alienation constitutes a bona fide syndrome. The claim is that because the official manual of psychiatric diagnoses (DSM-5) does not include the term “parental alienation,” the problem must be bogus. You also will not find “reckless driving syndrome” in the DSM-5. But you would be wise to avoid getting in a car with a driver who has this problem. Children need protection from reckless, toxic parenting, regardless of how we label the parent’s behavior. Moreover, the DSM-5 does refer to the concept of irrational parental alienation. The diagnostic manual mentions “unwarranted feelings of estrangement” as an example of the diagnosis: Parent–Child Relational Problem.

To the parent who loses her child, or the child who loses a parent, it matters little whether we label the loss a syndrome, a disorder, a condition, or a problem. What matters is whether a child is suffering and whether a parent’s behavior contributes to a child’s suffering.

2. Claim that it is only a speculation, hypothesis, or theory that children can become alienated from one parent when exposed to the other parent’s negative influence. As I explained in my article, “Bringing Sense to Parental Alienation,” there is nothing theoretical or speculative about the existence of irrationally alienated children. These children can be directly observed by anyone willing to look.

3. Attribute unsupportable, fake positions to parental alienation studies, and then refute the fake positions—a tactic known as “attacking a straw man.” For instance, a recently published study claimed that “the alienation hypothesis” (see denial strategy #2 above) maintains that parental denigration is only unilateral, not reciprocal, and that all children exposed to parental denigration become alienated from the target of denigration. When the study found that a group of volunteer college students reported that both parents denigrated each other, and the children did not reject either parent, the authors of the study concluded that “the alienation hypothesis” was not supported and that parental denigration does not cause children to reject the parent who is denigrated.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that no scholar has claimed that parental denigration necessarily leads to a child rejecting the denigrated parent. Of course many children whose parents badmouth each other maintain relationships with both parents. Rejecting a parent is an extreme consequence, not a common one. Furthermore, anyone who has worked with irrationally alienated children knows that these children are reluctant to admit that their favored parent maligned their other parent— in fact, these children are reluctant to admit anything negative about the parent whom they favor.

Researchers who genuinely want to learn about the forces that lead children to irrationally reject a parent will begin by studying alienated children. Studying children who are not alienated merely makes the obvious point that their parents occasionally bad-mouth each other without alienating the children from either parent. This is the sort of “scholarship” that gives social science a bad odor because the study advocates for and confirms a bias against the existence of parental alienation.

4. Ignore studies that fail to support one’s pet theories. For example, while promoting skepticism about the notion that children can be manipulated by a parent to hate the other parent, the authors of the study mentioned above failed to cite the largest study, published by the American Bar Association, that explicitly attributed children’s problems to being brainwashed by one parent against the other. They also failed to cite the volume of scientific evidence about various mechanisms by which children’s attitudes can be influenced and by which negative stereotypes about a parent can be promulgated.

Children’s feelings and behavior toward each parent are influenced by the way their parents treat each other. Does any reasonable person seriously believe otherwise—that children are immune from a parent’s influence? If so, tell that to all the child psychologists and authors who study and write about how to raise smarter, healthier, happier, and better behaved children.

Ironically, one of the authors of the straw-man study, in a previous article, railed against scholars who selectively cite research that confirms their biases, a tactic he called “cherry picking” or “stacking the deck.” Pot, meet kettle.

5. Promulgate, or accept without investigation or critical scrutiny, dramatic and exaggerated claims that the evaluator, therapist, child representative, and judge in a case mistook a child’s justified rejection of a parent for unjustified alienation, or that children removed from toxic alienating environments have been abused by the family court system. Such claims are repeated without considering all the evidence weighed by the court in reaching its decision.

We have a lot to learn about the roots of parental alienation and about why some children become ensnared in a campaign of hatred toward a parent while others resist. And why some children draw closer to the target of bad-mouthing and reject the parent who dispenses divorce poison, a phenomenon called “blowback” in the video, WELCOME BACK, PLUTO: UNDERSTANDING, PREVENTING, AND OVERCOMING PARENTAL ALIENATION.

But the existence of parents who effectively teach their children to hate the other parent, and of children who absorb this lesson, is beyond dispute.

Exactly two weeks before Parental Alienation Awareness Day in 2017, British High Court Justice Russell delivered her judgment in a Liverpool family court case. She wrote, “By manipulating her children, [the mother] has achieved what she has always wanted and stopped contact with their father. She has done so either because she cannot help herself or because she had quite deliberately set out to expunge their father from their lives. These children have suffered significant emotional harm as a result of their mother’s manipulative actions.”

Do the deniers and skeptics think Justice Russell was deluded?

As journalist Kathleen Parker observed, “Anybody old enough to drink coffee knows that embittered divorcees can and do manipulate their children. Not just women, but men, too.”

We may not want to face the fact that some parents prey on the children in their charge—physically, sexually, or emotionally. Often these parents carefully groom children to engage in harmful acts that victimize children. Whether children are victims of sexual abuse or psychological abuse, we must not turn a blind eye to them.

The fact that some children are able to resist does not obscure the reality that such abuse exists. Professionals who feed denial and skepticism play into the hands of those who want us to look away.

Because deniers and skeptics contribute to a backlash against protecting psychologically abused children from efforts to alienate them from a parent, 13 years after it was introduced we still need Parental Alienation Awareness Day to shine a light on the plight of children and parents caught in this maelstrom, and to remind us that much work remains to be done.

#PAADay #ParentalAlienation