Cafcass warns that brainwashing children against ex-partners is form of abuse

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Anthony Douglas, the Cafcass chief executive, warned against the danger of “parental alienation”, suggesting that divorced parents who “brainwash” their children against ex-partners are guilty of “abuse”. He went on to say that the deliberate manipulation of a child by one parent against the other has become so common in family breakdowns that it should be dealt with like any other form of neglect or child abuse.

Anthony Douglas said. “I think the way you treat your children after a relationship has broken up is just as powerful a public health issue as smoking or drinking.”

According to Cafcass, parental alienation is responsible for around 80 per cent of the most difficult cases that come before the family courts.

The Telegraph report on the issue explains that in some countries, governments have put in place legislation to prevent such behaviour. In Italy parents can be fined, whereas in Mexico, guilty adults can be given a 15-year jail term. In America “parenting coordinators” are ordered and supervised by the courts to help restore relationships between parents and children identified as “alienated”.

Joanna Abrahams, head of family law at Setfords Solicitors, is looking to draw up a team of experts to see if a committee could be formulated to tackle parental alienation, which will include Cafcass social workers and mental health workers – a cross-range of experts with the hope of developing some ideas.