Parental Alienation as a Form of Emotional Child Abuse: Current State of Knowledge and Future Directions for Research
This article examines the current state of research on parental alienation, which
reveals that alienation is far more common and debilitating for children and parents than was previously believed. In extreme cases, one can make the argument that parental alienation is a serious form of emotional child abuse. Careful scrutiny of key elements of parental alienation in the research literature consistently identifies two core elements of child abuse: parental alienation as a significant form of harm to children that is attributable to human action. As a form of individual child abuse, parental alienation calls for a child protection response. As a form of collective abuse, parental alienation warrants fundamental reform of the family law system in the
direction of shared parenting as the foundation of family law. There is an emerging scientific consensus on prevalence, effects, and professional recognition of parental alienation as a form of child abuse. In response, the authors discuss the need for research on effectiveness of parental alienation interventions, particularly in more extreme cases. This paper argues for more quantitative and qualitative research focused on four pillars of intervention at micro and macro levels, with specific recommendations for further study of child protection responses, reunification programs, and other therapeutic approaches.