Another area of controversy about PA relates to gender. The recent review of all 3,555 appellate court records of parental alienation cases from 1985 through 2018 show that 75% of the alienators are women.
In the days when the man was the sole breadwinner, and the woman found herself dependent on her former husband for support but no longer wanted him in her life otherwise, turning the children against him proved an effective way to keep him at bay. When parental alienation was identified as a syndrome in the 1980s and fathers began filing lawsuits against the mothers who perpetrated it, the defense often responded by claiming that PAS was an imagined condition dreamed up by the fathers. Today, parental alienation is clearly carried out by both mothers and fathers, and alienation is perpetrated by both custodial and noncustodial parents.
What complicates the gender debate is when accusations of child abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse are made by the alienating mother or father. When these kinds of allegations are made, courts do not wait to act until guilt is proven. Rather, they respond immediately by restricting contact of the child with the accused parent because the court’s priority is to protect the child first. This is how alienators turn child-abuse policies meant to protect children into a weapon that is used to abuse children through parental alienation. When the action of the court always favors the accuser initially, it is easy to see how not waiting for proof of guilt might be viewed as unfair to the accused. With guilt being assumed before proven, it is easy for either gender to interpret this as discrimination.
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