Child custody or child abuse?
Father-deprivation is a more reliable predictor of criminal activity than race, environment or poverty.
Father-deprived children are:
72% of all teenage murderers.
60% of rapists.
70% of kids incarcerated.
twice as likely to quit school.
11 times more likely to be violent.
3 of 4 teen suicides.
80% of the adolescents in psychiatric hospitals.
90% of runaways
Sources: National Fatherhood Initiative, US Bureau of Census, FBI
Father-deprivation is a serious form of child abuse that is institutionalized and entrenched within our legal system. Powerful sexist people in Canada have a vested interest in diminishing the role of men, especially their role as fathers. Research proves that children thrive with the active and meaningful participation of both biological parents, and is true even for post-divorce families.
Divorced fathers would like somewhere between full and half time custody, and are willing to make the appropriate lifestyle adjustments to accomplish it. The myth that fathers are disposable and/or replaceable is an assault against our families and communities. Fathers who show their love and responsibility towards their children by working long hours to provide comfort and security will find those sacrifices used as a weapon against them. They discover that they sacrificed too much - they are dismissed as the 'secondary care-giver'. Feminist legal dogma and contrived statistics have reduced divorced fathers to wallet-parents, possibly with a few visiting hours. Children are thereby deprived of their father and fathers are deprived of their children - without just cause. Fathers alienated from their children are left with either humiliating submission or disobedience, with the only remaining debtor's prison reserved exclusively for non-custodial fathers.
Dr. Richard Gardner coined the phrase "Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)": the process whereby one parent initiates the systemic vilification of the other parent by manipulation of the child with the intent of alienating the child from the other parent. Dr. Glenn Cartwright of McGill University expanded the parameters of PAS in 1993, saying "PAS also causes the child to enter the [vilification] dynamic, becoming a weapon and a spokesperson and a co-combatant." Dr. Charles Ferguson, Director of the Child Protection Centre said, "The psychological damage to children used as pawns is abuse in itself."
PAS is encouraged by Canada's "winner take all" sole custody presumption. PAS is the inevitable result of legal battles where a parent uses children as a means of controlling and manipulating an ex-spouse. Sole-custody parents have it in their power to arbitrarily revoke other-parent involvement. Embittered sole-custody parents often poison their own children's minds with claims that the other parent doesn't care, and the courts don't view that as a problem worthy of mention. As part of divorce battles, credulous social agencies facilitate false allegations of child abuse. Careers, reputations and emotions are devastated… overwhelmingly fathers. We should not be surprised that these 'throw-away' parents are driven to desperation.
The primary opponents of shared custody are feminist organizations like NOW. In propaganda articles like "Father's Rights Groups: Beware Their Real Agenda", they portray every father as a monster with a hidden agenda to "…place women and their children in harm's way." But, if men are as dangerous as they say, why marry and have children by them? In fact, when women are finished with the old husband and father, they usually get re-married to some other woman's 'terrible' husband and father! Demanding sole custody without cause should be considered evidence of parental irresponsibility and false allegations should result in penalties that will be effective deterrents.
Politicians pander to false presumptions about fathers, assuring us a bitter future. In 1991, Anne McLellan (now Canada's Minister of Justice) wrote "…joint custody may simply perpetuate the influence and domination of men over the lives of women." Her sexist views are not uncommon, especially within the legal system and government ministries. The darker side of sole-custody is rarely acknowledged by anyone in government. Enabling anyone to abuse children as the means of controlling and extorting an ex-spouse is inconsistent with a free and democratic country.
Love and care from both parents meets the best interests of children. Shared parenting should be the presumption, with only neglect or abuse being valid cause to grant sole-custody. Shared parenting is the model favored by moderate father's groups and social scientists. Shared parenting is being implemented in many jurisdictions. Mediation leads to reasonable solutions and should precede all divorces whenever children are involved. The Victoria Men's Centre proposed a legal Presumption of Shared Parenting to the Senate during the Bill C-41 (Divorce Act) debate and the Libertarian Party adopted that proposal as it's Family Law Policy. Perhaps, if we all ask nicely, other political leaders will open their eyes and do the right thing for our families.
Dick Freeman, Joseph Maiello, Mike Jebbett are directors of the Victoria Men's Center (VMC) and members of the Vancouver Island Libertarian Association (VILA)
[Published in the Victoria Times-Colonist - January 8, 1998 page A13]