21 March 2017
Simon Danczuk, Rochdale’s MP, has urged parents responsible for ‘parental alienation’, the process whereby a parent manipulates their child against an ex-partner or spouse, to be punished in the courts.
Sadly, ‘parental alienation’ is rarely talked about in Parliament, with only eight questions having been asked since 2010 prior to Simon’s debate.
Simon has spent much of his time investigating and exposing allegations of child abuse when politicians, the media and the state were too slow to act.
He introduced Parliament’s first debate on the issue, saying: “Parental alienation is another form of child abuse that has gone both unreported and under-discussed. While Westminster remains silent on the issue, parents and children suffer. The Government and the courts need to recognise parental alienation as a form of emotional abuse, and as such they need to step up efforts to prevent it and, in some circumstances, punish perpetrators”.
Speaking of his own experience, Simon said: “When my parents separated when I was five, my mother portrayed my father, perhaps on occasion faithfully, in a very poor light. In contrast, my father would refuse to say anything bad about my mother”.
He also added: “I have had to work at avoiding being negative in conversation with my two youngest children since my second marriage broke down. Thankfully, my second wife Karen and I, for all our differences, work really hard at putting our children’s emotions first. That is down to good and regular communication”.
While many fathers’ rights groups have rightly been campaigning on this issue for many years, Simon made the crucial observation that both parents can be the victims of ‘parental alienation’. Simon said: “It is important to note that mothers can be the victims as well as the perpetrators”.
Simon concluded his speech by encouraging other MPs to raise awareness of the issue during Parental Alienation Awareness Day next month on 25 April.
Justice Minister Oliver Heald thanked Simon for his contribution, saying: "it is right to say at the outset that the Government are considering family justice matters at the moment with a view to having a Green Paper later this year.
"With that in mind, [Simon] has highlighted an important concern. I was sorry to hear of his own personal experience of parental alienation, which must make this an issue of particular concern to him, and the House will have been moved by that".