The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) is running a pilot scheme to bring an end to separated parents poisoning their child against the other parent. Parents who are guilty of manipulating their child in this way may have their child taken away from them and, in the most extreme cases, they may be denied contact.
Occurring when a child is caught in between their parents’ acrimonious divorce or separation, parental alienation is when a parent deliberately turns their child against their ex so that they eventually cut off all contact. Anthony Douglas, the chief executive of Cafcass, vividly described it as one parent ‘trying to turn their child into a child soldier in a battle’. Previously parental alienation has been dismissed as a common product of bitterness about a failed relationship, but it is separate from these normal feelings of hurt. Parental alienation is in fact an internationally recognised form of parental psychological abuse and undermines the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the rights of the child. In Mexico and Brazil, it is even classed as a criminal offence.
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