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When a Parent Does More Harm than Good

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Family courts have a long history of focusing their attention on reunifying families. This is based on the belief that children do better with both parents in their lives. This is true for a large majority of custody cases handled by the courts. When domestic violence became a public issue in the 1970s, the courts had to develop responses at a time when virtually no research was available. Domestic violence was viewed as a problem because it undermined efforts to keep both parents in children’s lives.

Perhaps this is why the courts developed practices designed more to prevent the issue of domestic violence from interfering with the goal of keeping both parents in children’s lives than from preventing domestic violence from harming children. The responses were created based on many assumptions that turned out to be wrong. The failure to consult domestic violence advocates and a bias that viewed domestic violence as an obstacle to the goal of unified families encouraged practices that jeopardized children.

Concerns about domestic violence were limited to whether the children were physically injured. Courts turned to mental health professionals based on the belief that domestic violence was caused by mental illness or substance abuse. Courts accepted the myth that mothers frequently made false reports of abuse to gain a litigation advantage. Concerns about domestic violence ended when the parties separated or there was no recent physical assault. Even after later research found children were harmed by witnessing domestic violence, the concern was still limited to physical assaults. Court professionals were taught that contested custody involved “high conflict cases in which the parents were angry with each other and acted out in ways that hurt their children. All of these mistaken assumptions have been disproven by highly credible scientific research, but most courts continue to rely on these outdated and discredited practices that place children in jeopardy.

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now
Barry Goldstein

Barry Goldstein

Research Director

Barry Goldstein is a nationally recognized domestic violence author, speaker and advocate.
 
Barry has written some of the leading books about domestic violence and custody.
 
Barry has an ACE score of 0.

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