Picture this … a question mark where your child used to be
Thousands of parents across the world are expected to join in a graphic campaign to highlight the shame of parental alienation.
Days after Anthony Douglas, chief executive of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, publically came out against the syndrome an amazing world-wide protest is taking shape.
Victim of parental alienation, Andrew J Teague, of D.A.D.s against double standards, is determined to show what it is really like to have your child begin to hate you.
Victims in the UK, Europe, America and Australia have started sending photographs of themselves with the faces of their children replaced by a question mark to Andrew’s site and the www.consumerwatchfoundation.com international news website.
CWF editor Leigh G Banks said: “When parents are attacked for things they haven’t done it leaves so many question marks in their lives – including the most important ‘why does my child hate me?’ And that is why we are highlighting the question marks which hang over our futures as parents.”
Mr Douglas made a statement saying that manipulation of children by a parent has become so endemic in family break-ups that it should be dealt with like any other form of neglect or abuse.
Andrew said: “Finally, our group and the many other groups battling against parental alienation, can take some comfort in what has been said … but it doesn’t mean the battle is over. Now we need to get the law to see it as a crime.”
Alienation can include a parent bad-mouthing or belittling the other parent or limiting contact, banning talking about them, making it seem like the absent parent does not love the child and making the child reject the parent.
“It’s undoubtedly a form of neglect or child abuse in terms of the impact it can have,” said Mr Douglas. “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.”
In some countries, there is legislation to prevent parental alienation. In Italy parents can be fined, but in Mexico guilty adults can be given a 15-year jail term.
Andrew hopes the Question Mark campaign will be as successful as one introduced by a bottled water company in eastern China which prints pictures of missing children on its packaging to help parents and authorities find them.
Qingdao Kingtex International said it has sent out 500,000 bottles with information on children missing since July. The labels also include the child’s birth date and a hotline number. The Missing Children Milk Carton Campaign, which was one of the biggest in America, closed after a number of years.
Although he started the group in Swansea, Andrew, CWF and www.rti.fm have spread the word so much that other groups have been formed in the UK and abroad. He said: “I formed the group about eight months ago. I made a vow to stand up for the children of Britain who didn’t have a voice, and their parents.
“I started a campaign called ‘shirt off my back’ because they take everything, you have only got the shirt on your back,” he said. “I got over 700 names from all over the world to sign up for it, and I wrote them on a shirt, and was outside the court for four hours on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.”
He is planning to expand that element of the campaign globally on April 25.