Pennsylvania Capital Event to address 'Horrific" Parental Alienation Crisis

National Parents Organization of Pennsylvania Recognizes Parental Alienation Awareness Day

Amid local and global concerns surrounding the devastating impact of parental alienation, National Parents Organization of Pennsylvania is organizing a rally on Parental Alienation Awareness Day – April 25 – at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg.

The National Parents Organization event is happening at a time when Pennsylvania legislators are considering two bills – HB 443 and HB 1349– both bills are supportive of shared parenting after separation or divorce and could combat parental alienation.

Before the bills were introduced, the Pennsylvania Bipartisan House Children and Youth Committee held a hearing on how parental alienation is affecting families.

 During the hearing, Dr. Craig Childress, a licensed psychologist from California specializing in children and families, educated the committee on parental alienation – when one parent essentially erases the other parent from the child’s life, he explained, by turning the child against that parent.

“It is a horrific, intense conflict that moves through the child and destroys the family,” Dr. Childress said, adding that it is tantamount to child abuse. “And no one is doing anything about it.”

Stephen Meehan, Chair of National Parents Organization of Pennsylvania, said: “It is difficult for anyone to turn a child against a fit and loving parent who plays an active role in a child’s life. Shared parenting can prevent attempts to alienate a child from a fit parent. However, far too often, the courts order sole custody to one parent after a bitter, winner-take-all custody battle instead of insuring children have both loving, fit parents in their lives. Often, a non-custodial parent has so little time with the child, the winning parent is empowered to knowingly or unknowingly marginalize the child from a fit and loving parent, creating heartbreak for child and parent. The marginalization alienates children and the parents.”

The capitol rally is set for April 25 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the State Capitol Rotunda. Effected family members are invited to prepare a 3-minute testimony and bring empty shoes representing alienated children.

“We know no one is doing anything about parental alienation, and the rally is all about taking action to stop taking children away from a fit parent. It hurts children,” Meehan said. 

If Pennsylvania passes laws supportive of shared parenting legislation, the state would be responding to overwhelming research showing shared parenting works in the best interest of children (see “Recent Research” section below).

The Washington Post reports 25 states have considered legislation within the past year that encourages shared parenting so children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent. A number of states have supported shared parenting for years. In recent years, Kentucky, Utah, South Dakota, Missouri and Minnesota have enacted the reform. And this action is not unique to the United Sates. Authorities in other areas of the world are proactively working to fight parental alienation.

In the U.K., the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) revealed a new, groundbreaking policy: Parents who actively alienate another parent face losing some to all time with their children. 

“We’ve long known that shared parenting gives children what they most want and need following separation or divorce – two loving parents actively involved in their lives. And now we also know that if a judge orders the more harmonious two-parent model, the pain of alienating children and parents can often be avoided,” Meehan said. “My hope is that we can make shared parenting the norm in Pennsylvania, so we can unite more children and parents and erase parental alienation.”


Shared Parenting Data

Single Parenting Data

According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:

  • 63% of teen suicides;
  • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
  • 71% of high school drop-outs;
  • 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
  • 85% of those in prison;
  • 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
  • 90% of homeless and runaway children.