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We, the undersigned, state that:
1) Children are particularly vulnerable to undue influence and coercive control. In some situations, they can be psychologically manipulated into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or animosity towards a parent and/or other family members;
2) Children in divided families - especially where separated parents are involved in legal action or Family Court proceedings - are particularly and frequently vulnerable to extreme levels of such control and manipulation;
3) This is a distinctive form of psychological child abuse and family violence, as defined by legislation in many countries (1) and by internationally recognized mental health publications (2);
4) This variety of child abuse is extremely harmful to children; its impact is often life-long and as serious as other, more familiar forms of child abuse; it may cause a serious, mental and long-term disorder in the child and lead to increased lifetime risks of mental and physical illness (3);
5) The behaviour of children experiencing this form of Psychological Child Abuse is distinct and consistent; specialists can distinguish it reliably and diagnostically from the behaviour of a child who justifiably rejects, or has been physically abused or mistreated by, a parent;
6) Many professionals, however, are unfamiliar with this phenomenon and with its signs, symptoms and treatment; specialised knowledge and experience is required to assess its possible occurrence, especially since both the child and the perpetrator may present as genuine and convincing, and the perpetrator may even be unaware that he/she is abusing his/her own child;
7) Where this abuse is suspected or identified, this becomes a child welfare & protection issue of the utmost urgency. Early intervention is best to minimise the risk of long-term psychological damage to the child. The most effective response, in many cases, is to remove a child temporarily from the abusive parent;
8) Considerable scientific research shows that, in a large majority of separated families, it is best for children to spend significant amounts of time, and have meaningful relationships, with both of their parents. The occurrence of this psychological abuse therefore undermines what is best for a child.
(1) e.g. Australia’s Family Law Act 1975: definitions of “Child Abuse” (Section 4(1) (c): “causing the child to suffer serious psychological harm”); and “Family Violence” (Section 4AB: “violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful”);
(2)DSM-5 of the American Psychiatric Association, including but not limited to 995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, V61.20 Parent-Child Relational Problem & V61.29 Child Affected by Parental Relationship Distress;
(3) Adverse Child Experience (ACE Study) - The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being.
(List of Signatories Below)
Joan T. Kloth-Zanard, GAL, RSS, ABI & LC
Executive Director & Founder, PASIntervention
Kay A. Johnson
National Alliance For Targeted Parents
Christine Palatine Hausfeld
Member, Parental Alienation Study Group
CEO and Founder Custody Calculations
Child Custody and Divorce Coach
Amanda Sillars, Child of Alienation, Alienated Parent & Reunited Parent
Director & Founder of Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation
William Bernet, M.D.
Professor Emeritus Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee USA
Glenn Ross Caddy Ph.D., ABPP, FAPA
Clinical, Health & Forensic Psychologist
Bruno A Cayoun, DPsych, MAPS
Nick Child, MB, ChB, MPhil, MRCPsych, UKCP
Retired Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist & Family Therapist
Dr Craig Childress, Psy.D
Clinical Psychologist & Author of "An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Foundations"
Les Linet, M.D.
Child & Adult Psychiatrist
Dr Margaret Cherubino, BPsych, MPsych, MAPS
Clinical & Forensic Psychologist
John E Dunne, M.D.
Child psychiatrist & co-author of Washington State’s Parenting Act, 1987
Daniel Gottlieb, Psy.D.
Director of Clinic Services
Shinui Institute, Israel
Mandy MatthewsonPhD, BSc (Hons), MAPS
Clinical Psychologist, University of Tasmania
Hobart, Tasmania AUST
List of Signatories
"Professionals in relevant disciplines
(psychologists, psychiatrists, family lawyers)"
2016 POSITION STATEMENT