Support implementing Shared Custody - eliminate Child Abuse; STOP Parental Alienation!

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While commendable support against various form of abuse of children have received large media coverage and public support in India, there is hardly any awareness about a more prevalent form of abuse that has a devastating and permanent psychological effect on a child, and to which, growing number of helpless children falls victim each passing day. ‘Parental Alienation’... a serious form of emotional and psychological Child Abuse. Although fully aware of the said situation, our highly biased judicial system and other govt. departments responsible for addressing and protecting child issues has deliberately shown complete apathy in addressing this.

Parental Alienation (PA) refers to a situation in which a custodial parent (usually but not exclusively) turns their child against the non-custodial parent, resulting in the child’s supposed desire to reject all contact with that parent. The process involves “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other, “targeted” parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child's relationship with that parent, and is often a sign of a parent’s inability to separate from the couple conflict and focus on the needs of the child. Such denigration results in the child’s emotional rejection of the targeted   parent and the loss of a capable and loving parent from the child's life.

Renowned Psychiatrist Richard Gardner defines this as:

     "...a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent."

Studies in Western countries have shown that the tactics of alienating parents are tantamount to extreme psychological maltreatment, including spurning, terrorizing, isolating, corrupting or exploiting, and denying emotional responsiveness. For the child, parental alienation is a serious mental condition, based on a false belief that the alienated parent is dangerous and unworthy. The severe effects of parental alienation on children are well-documented and some of the long-term effects lead to lasting impact even in the adult life of such a child including low self-esteem and self-hatred, lack of trust, depression, and substance abuse and other forms of addiction are widespread, as children lose the capacity to give and accept love from a parent.

Marital discord is leading to prolonged separation and or divorce. Such instances are rising in our society and the biggest victims of abuse in such situations whether intended or not are our helpless children. The number of children going through such a situation at present in our country numbers in several lakhs if not more. Every child has a fundamental right and need for an unthreatened and loving relationship with both parents. To be denied that right by one parent is itself a form of child abuse. Since it is the child who is being violated by a parent's alienating behaviors, it is the child who is being alienated from the other parent. Children who have undergone forced separation from one parent are highly subject to post-traumatic stress.

Both parents and the larger society should recognize a child’s right to:

  • Emotional and physical safety, stability and security
  • Feel loved by both of the parents and significant family members
  • Know and be cared for by both parents and significant family members (grandparents and other extended family members)
  • Develop independent and meaningful relationships with each parent.

World Health Organization, within “Caregiver child relational problem”, code QE52.0, has mentioned Parental Alienation in ICD-11. ( https://icd.who.int/dev11/l-m/en#/http://id.who.int/icd/entity/547677013 ). Parental Alienation has been characterized as abuse with high risk of emotional and psychological harm, therefore, it should be treated as so under the children mental health and well-being act and trained expert intervention.

As observed by Dr. Aristoniki Theodosiou-Tryfonidou: “Parental Alienation has a multi-traumatic impact on the children. It is as if somebody is trying to uproot all the parental memories and origins from the child.”

Hence, in order to stop this social epidemic from spreading further and to protect our minor children, our nation’s future, we make an appeal to the Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India to immediately intervene in the following without further delay:

  1. Implement Nationally ‘Child Access & Custody Guidelines’ proposed by Child Rights Foundation and approved by the Honorable High Court of Himachal Pradesh
  2. Formulate into law the joint custody and shared parenting recommendations by the Law Commission Report no.257 of 25th May, 2017 and amend the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 and the Hindu Minority & Guardianship Act, 1956 accordingly.
  3. Officially Declare Parental Alienation as a serious form of Child Abuse hence a punishable offense, and any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of basic rights of a child and violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood.

On behalf of the members of ayushman, a social organization of aggrieved and alienated parents caught amidst marital and child disputes we draw your kind attention to help us eradicate this SILENT and SERIOUS form of CHILD ABUSE by signing this petition to compel our Government act and seriously undertake relevant proactive measures to protect our nation’s future – our Children.