PAS in compulsory public custody, a book chapter from THE INTERNATIONAL HANDBOOK OF PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME. Conceptual, Clinical and Legal Considerations

From  2006: Gardner, R.A. M.D., Sauber, S.R. Ph.D., Lorandos, D. Ph.D., J.D. (Eds.) THE INTERNATIONAL HANDBOOK OF PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME. Conceptual, Clinical and Legal Considerations, Charles C Thomas Publisher, LTD

PAS in compulsory public custody conflicts*

Lena Hellblom Sjögren, PhD

ABSTRACT

Programming of children by parent substitutes in public custody disputes can cause Parental Alienation Syndrome, PAS. Such programming involving public authority, is designed to strengthen the position of the programming parent substitute in courts of law. The purpose of this article is to describe the alienation process in five Swedish cases where the children have developed PAS after having been influenced to reject their mothers by local social welfare agencies. I conclude that children and their parents are best served if PAS can be recognized, and efforts be made to educate professionals about how harmful it is.

As described by Richard Gardner and according to his widely accepted definition of PAS four main points can be stressed:

  1. A child-parent relationship is transformed to rejection of a formerly loved parent.
  2. The transformation is due to programming by the other parent, or as in the cases below, by a parent substitute.
  3. The child contributes in the campaign of denigration of the alienated parent seemingly out of his/her own will.
  4. The child develops a cluster of symptoms related to a two folded cause: continuous negative influence about the targeted parent from the parent or parent substitute on whom the child is dependent and who is fighting to obtain or keep custody, and from the child itself, who has incorporated a negative picture of the formerly loved parent whom the child is kept separated from.

The incorporation of a negative picture is due to what is said about the targeted parent and perhaps more important what is done by the substitute parent to avoid that parent. The children are vulnerable in an ongoing custody conflict. In particular small children are totally dependent on the parent or parent substitute for their daily care. It is impossible for them not to notice and be influenced by the rejection of the parent they are mostly separated from.

If a child has been abused, severely neglected or maltreated by a parent and therefore rejects that parent, then of course the child´s rejection is justified, as is the local authorities´ endeavours to protect the child. It is a good thing to have laws to safeguard children under such conditions. If the child´s rejection of a parent is due to severe maltreatment, mental illness, drug problems or abuse PAS is not applicable.

PAS can be identified in custody conflicts when the parent substitute programs a child to denigrate a parent without justification, and acts to alienate the child from the parent, resulting in the child´s own denigration of a formerly loved parent. The five cases presented here all involve rejection of the mother.

When children’s well being and rights are at stake even children whose mothers or fathers are severe criminals need to have contact with their parents. All children have human rights to be with their family. These rights are violated for many children who are taken into public care. Although there are social workers and child psychiatrists who claim that a foster family is as much a family as the child’s biological family, this disregards the fact that the foster parents have it as a paid job to take care of someone else’s child, with one to three months notice of withdrawal. In November 2001 10.200 children were in foster homes, two thirds on a voluntary or semi-voluntary basis, and one third in accordance with the Act containing Special Provisions on the Care of Young Persons (LVU-Law 1980:621 with special regulations regarding the care of young people). This law gives the social authorities power to take children from their parents when an official believes that a young persons’s health or development is at risk.

In Sweden every second marriage ends with divorce and about 70 % of the “common law” relations end with separation. In comparison with the many cases of divorces/separations where children become involved in custody conflicts between two parents the compulsory public custody conflict cases can be seen as a minor problem. For the children involved, however, who without justification are programmed to perceive their mothers or fathers as negatively as the officials from the social welfare agencies/ the parent substitutes do, it is not a minor problem.

My purpose with this article is to contribute to our understanding of the unjustified alienating processes resulting in PAS when the identified alienator is a parent substitute in compulsory public custody conflicts and the mother is the alienated parent.

The targeted mothers described here, whose cases I have investigated thoroughly as an investigative psychologist, have given their permission for me to write about their cases. All names are fictious, but all the details and excerpts from documents and other quotations marked with inverted commas are authentic (translation from Swedish to English by myself).

As has been pointed out unanimously breaking off the relationship and contact between a child and a parent, subsequent to a separation, is traumatic for both the child and the parent.

In the case studies presented here this is evident. The cases are as follows:

1. Case one. Emma was separated from her mother when she was one year old.

2. Case two. Erika was two and a half years old when her mother was said to be no good for her.

3. Case three. Jenny was separated from her mother as newborn, her one year younger sister when she came back with her mother from 8 years of exile.

4. Case four. Four children were separated from their mother, the youngest was later allowed to come home.

5. Case five. Dan was separated from his mother at the age of nearly 12 and died when he was to be 15.

Are there any common traits in the way the alienator acts? Do the alienated mothers have something in common? How severely have the children been harmed? What can be said about intervention and non intervention by the authority officials, who are obliged to make decisions in the best interest of the child?

Programming of children by parent substitutes in public custody disputes can cause Parental Alienation Syndrome, PAS. Such programming involving public authority, is designed to strengthen the position of the programming parent substitute in courts of law. The purpose of this article is to describe the alienation process in five Swedish cases where the children have developed PAS after having been influenced to reject their mothers by local social welfare agencies. I conclude that children and their parents are best served if PAS can be recognised, and efforts be made to educate professionals about how harmful it is.

As described by Richard Gardner, and according to his widely accepted definition of PAS[1][1], four main points can be stressed:

  1. A child-parent relationship is transformed to rejection of a formerly loved parent.
  2. The transformation is due to programming by the other parent, or as in the cases below, by a parent substitute.
  3. The child contributes in the campaign of denigration of the alienated parent seemingly out of his/her own will.[2]
  4. The child develops a cluster of symptoms related to a two foldcause: continuous negative influence about the targeted parent from the parent or parent substitute on whom the child is dependent and who is fighting to obtain or keep custody, and from the child itself, who has incorporated a negative picture of the formerly loved parent whom the child is kept separated from.

The incorporation of a negative picture is due too what is said about the targeted parent and perhaps more important what is done by the substitute parent to avoid that parent. The children are vulnerable in an ongoing custody conflict. In particular small children are totally dependent on the parent or parent substitute for their daily care. It is impossible for them not to notice and be influenced by the rejection of the parent they are mostly separated from.

If a child has been abused, severely neglected or maltreated by a parent and therefore rejects that parent, then of course the child’s rejection is justified, as is the local authorities´ endeavours to protect the child. It is a good thing to have laws to safeguard children under such conditions. If the child’s rejection of a parent is due to severe maltreatment, mental illness, drug problems or abuse PAS is not applicable.

PAS can be identified in custody conflicts when the parent substitute programs a child to denigrate a parent without justification, and acts to alienate the child from the parent, resulting in the child’s own denigration of a formerly loved parent. The five cases presented here all involve rejection of the mother. [3][3]

When children’s well being and rights are at stake even children whose mothers or fathers are severe criminals need to have contact with their parents.[4][4] All children have human rights to be with their family.[5][5] These rights are violated for many children who are taken into public care. Although there are social workers and child psychiatrists who claim that a foster family is as much a family as the child’s biological family,[6][6] this disregards the fact that the foster parents have it as a paid job to take care of someone else’s child, with one to three months notice of withdrawal. In November 2001 10.200 children were in foster homes, two thirds on a voluntary or semi-voluntary basis, and one third in accordance with the Act containing Special Provisions on the Care of Young Persons (LVU-Law 1980:621 with special regulations regarding the care of young people). This law gives the social authorities power to take children from their parents when an official believes that a young person’s health or development is at risk. [7][7]

 

In Sweden every second marriage ends with divorce and about 70 % of the “common law” relations end with separation. In comparison with the many cases of divorces/separations where children become involved in custody conflicts between two parents the compulsory public custody conflict cases can be seen as a minor problem. For the children involved, however, who without justification are programmed to perceive their mothers or fathers as negatively as the officials from the social welfare agencies/ the parent substitutes do, it is not a minor problem.

My purpose with this article is to contribute to our understanding of the unjustified alienating processes resulting in PAS when the identified alienator is a parent substitute in compulsory public custody conflicts and the mother is the alienated parent.

The targeted mothers described here, whose cases I have investigated thoroughly as an investigative psychologist, have given their permission for me to write about their cases. All names are fictitious, but all the details and excerpts from documents and other quotations marked with inverted commas are authentic[8][8] (translation from Swedish to English by me).

As has been pointed out unanimously[9][9] breaking off the relationship and contact between a child and a parent, subsequent to a separation, is traumatic for both the child and the parent.

In the case studies presented here this is evident. The cases are as follows:

Case one. Emma was separated from her mother when she was one year old.

Case two. Erika was two and a half years old when her mother was said to be no good for her.

Case three. Jenny was separated from her mother as newborn, her one year younger sister when she came back with her mother from 8 years of exile.

Case four. Four children were separated from their mother; the youngest was later allowed to come home.

Case five. Dan was separated from his mother at the age of nearly 12 and died when he was to be 15.

After a presentation of the cases I discuss some issues: Are there any common traits in the way the alienator acts? Do the alienated mothers have something in common? How severely have the children been harmed? What can be said about intervention and non intervention by the authority officials, who are obliged to make decisions in the best interest of the child?

Case one. Baby Emma, a British citizen, born in February 1990, was separated from her mother, Susan, when she was one year old. She is a teenager now, and lives in her second foster home where she was placed when 1.5 years old.

Susan came from Britain to Sweden and married a Swede. She brought her daughter born in Britain. After 10 years the marriage broke and Susan was upset and began to occasionally drink too much. She was treated for this, but was not diagnosed as an alcoholic by any medical doctor. Five years later when Susan had been in a stable relation for some time she and her boyfriend longed for children. It turned out to be impossible for her boyfriend to make Susan pregnant and they decided that Susan would try to become pregnant with a man who agreed to donate sperm. Susan and her boyfriend welcomed the baby girl and called her Emma. (According to Swedish law, Emma is a British citizen because her mother was unwed. Emma’s British citizenship was confirmed before she was six months old.)

From all contemporary witnesses it is documented that there was a loving, close mother-child relation, and nothing to worry about concerning Emma’s wellbeing in her mother’s care.

In a report from the paediatrician who had investigated Emma it is for example written:

“In summary Emma is judged to be a healthy, normally developed and in every aspect functioning 9 month-old girl.”

The social agency had been informed by a social counsellor at the hospital that perhaps this was a mother in need of some help as she had five years earlier had some drinking problems in reaction to a stressful situation. A social worker came to the birth clinic and said that she wanted to arrange professional help for the mother in her home, something the mother rejected. When, in spite of Susan’s refusal, the same social worker some weeks later came to her home with a therapist Susan felt that her integrity had been violated, and expressed that frankly. In the records kept by the social agency it is documented that this rejection was taken personally. A later statement from the social workers said that they remembered unpacked boxes and an untidy apartment, and pointed out that this reflected Susan’s “inner chaos”, and according to them it proved that she was mentally ill.

Several months later Susan was visited by an old pupil (from a time when she gave English courses).At the time of the visiting Susan did not feel well because of stomach ache and an infection, and she had not tidied up her apartment. This woman thought Susan needed some help and contacted the social agency. This and an information from Susan’s former mother in law and from another person stating that Susan had taken a glass too much gave reason for the same social worker to make a second home visit. She was then again criticized by Susan, who had taken some glasses, but was not so drunk that she couldn’t take care of her baby.

The social worker had the local social council decide about immediate compulsory public custody, called the police and took Emma to a children’s home. Susan was desperate, cried for her child and was aggressive towards the officials. According to the social agency Susan’s behaviour towards the officials from the social agency justified their opinion about Susan being unfit to take care of her child as she was mentally ill. They argued that Susan would come and go to hospitals as they thought she had done before, when she had reacted on her stressful divorce. Their opinion could not be altered although professionals argued strongly against a separation of mother and child.

At first Susan was allowed to come and see Emma and occasionally to breastfeed her as she had done as long as Emma lived with her. When Susan was allowed to stay in an institution with Emma, she tried to hide with Emma from the social agency but was caught by the police who took Emma from her at the request of the social agency. After that incident the social agency decided not to tell Susan where her daughter was. The social record stated that:

“the mother has ´kidnapped´ the daughter several times.”

The social agency decided for the second time to take Emma into forced custody. Emma, then 11 months old, had been moved between three different institutions. She was placed in a temporary foster home while the social agency looked for a foster home. Emma became attached to that temporary foster mother where she was placed for as long as 6 months. Emma was kept at a secret address away from her mother Susan. The reason for this was explained by the social agency:

“Susan has not known the address because she has been very emotionally unstable and unpredictable.”

In the social record it is written after a meeting between the temporary foster mother, and two social workers:

“We speak generally about Emma’s needs and L. (the responsible social worker) doesn’t think it will be difficult to find a suitable home for the child. On the other hand it is important that the family home[10][10] can tackle Susan.”

After 6 months the social agency had found a home that could, in their opinion, “tackle Susan,” who was then not allowed to see her daughter at all. Emma was to be adjusted to her new foster mother with the help of the temporary foster mother, according to an adjustment plan that was made up by the social agency.

This proves that Susan at this point already had been cut off from her daughter by the social agency. The parent substitute demonstrated by their actions, which were impossible for Susan to stop, that they didn’t think that she, as Emma’s mother, was an important or a necessary person for Emma in her life.

Emma has never during the last 12 years been allowed to see her mother in the foster home. The address of Emma’s new home was also kept secret from Susan, whom the social agency described as alcoholic and mentally disturbed. This was in spite of the fact that according to all the medical expertise that Susan had been in contact with, she was not regarded as an alcoholic. The officials from the social welfare agency have later labelled Susan psychotic. However this is not a diagnosis from any medical or psychiatric expertise, which has repeatedly diagnosed Susan’s drinking and loss of control as a reaction to the forced loss of her child, and the continuous lack of normal contact with her child.

The social agency had decided that Emma should be rooted in the foster home. The goal was that Emma should perceive the foster parents and the other children placed in the same foster home as her family. Nevertheless Emma’s foster home is a “family home” on duty, with a contract, according to which it can give notice of termination of a child it gets paid to take care of[11][11] three months in advance, after which the home is obliged to take another child.

The social agency had regular contact and supervision of the foster home. Every contact is documented in a social record. The following notes were made by a social worker in the beginning of January when Emma had been placed for half a year:

“E/the foster mother/ says that her head gets empty – Susan unceasingly speaks her stuff (is harping on the same string). (

Half a year later, when Emma had been in the foster home for one year, still without any normal contact with her mother Susan, the following notes are written (92-07-06):

“Susan has been worse than ever – she calls often – keeps talking about all the old stuff (like a record-player).”

The fact that Susan cannot think or talk about anything else than the loss of her child is used against her. She is in the opinion of the social agency nagging, a word Emma picks up and also uses against her mother, as an explanation to not wanting to see her.

Susan was not allowed to phone Emma in the foster home until Emma was three years old. At that time the social agency suggested for the first time a transfer also of the legal guardianship from Susan to the foster parents with a continued payment from the social agency.

Susan kept sending post cards to Emma, sometimes nearly every day. In the social journal we can read (94-09-21):

“The family sorts the cards – and prevents contacts between Emma and Susan.”

And from another day (94-10-12):

“The family chooses when Emma can have a card.”

Emma was allowed by the social agency to meet her mother once a month outside the foster home under supervision of her foster parents. Emma called her mother mummy during the first years, then by her first name as the social agency has always done. Emma’s mother wanted Emma to learn her own language English, but this was not supported by the social agency or the foster home. Emma has been told that her mother is ill and unable to take care of herself or Emma, none of which was a proven fact.

Emma has never, during her 12 years in public custody been allowed to meet with her mother in an everyday situation, or without supervision. All meetings took place – and still take place – under the supervision of the foster parents, outside the foster home.

When Emma was six years old it is reported by the social agency that Emma doesn’t want to see her mother any more. Before a meeting they claimed that Emma, when 6 years old, had said about her mother:

“If she insults and yells I want to go home.”

This is a borrowed adult expression. Year by year as Emma grew older she has gradually taken more and more part in the denigration campaign of her mother. She has expressed a hatred of English, and a total rejection of Susan, her mother. The social agency, responsible for the programming, argues that this proves that Emma doesn’t want to see her mother, and that their decision to transfer the legal guardianship to the foster parents is the right thing to do.

The powerlessness Susan experiences because of the abduction of her daughter by the social agency has made her do desperate things. She has set fire to papers from the social agency and has twice been sentenced to forced psychiatric care with special court review. The professor who made the forensic psychiatric evaluation on Susan wrote in 1996, and then again in 2001:

“The most crime-preventive measure is more contact between mother and daughter.”

A British psychiatrist who examined Susan stated in 2001:

“To make fires gives her a useful tool of communication and expresses her frustration, resentment and despair.”

The social agency has suggested a transfer of the legal guardianship of the British citizen Emma to the Swedish foster parents a total of nine times. This matter will be ultimately decided in court in the summer or autumn of 2003. One expert, who was requested by the social agency to give an opinion, wrote (November 2001):

“Emma seems to be an easy-going, merry and confident girl. She lives and has her life with mum and dad, her family home parents. She is well aware that she has a biological mother, Susan, but she doesn’t feel anything particular for her, or has thoughts about what a life with her would be like. Emma seems to live a good life in her family home and ought not to be worried through a constant tug-of-war between those she regards as her family and Susan. My suggestion is that the custody is transferred to the family home parents.”

In the latest statement from the social agency (November 2002) it was concluded that

“For Emma to be able to maintain a realistic picture and not to lose contact with her biological mother we suggest that the existing contact is reduced to let’s say two occasions a year.”

In 2002, when Emma was 12 years old and had been in the same foster home since she was 1.5, the social agency had asked another agency to investigate Emma. That investigator met Emma with the foster mother in the foster home. The requested investigator found that:

  1. “Emma has not one positive thing to say about Susan.”
  2. “Emma doesn’t think it is amusing, it is boring and not exciting to see Susan.”
  3. “To the question if she would like and dare to say to Susan that she is always nagging Emma answers – Yes but I don’t anyway, but I can tell E /the foster mother/.
  4. “Emma doesn’t feel any kinship or connection with Susan.”
  5. “Susan has sometimes been sad and has argued with E and K /the foster parents/. Emma doesn’t listen then.”
  6. “During our talk Emma clearly demonstrates irritation about Susan. She cannot describe Susan for me; she says she doesn’t remember what she looks like.”
  7. “She thinks she is always nagging and that she asks Emma a lot of questions. She compares the situation with the one when I, in my capacity as investigator, come and ask her questions.”

If we add that Emma has rejected any contact with her mother’s family in England we have an illustration of all the eight criteria described by Gardner for diagnosing the child’s behaviour as a result of alienation with an identified alienator, that is PAS.

In the Administrative Court of Appeal Susan, the mother, had appealed the social board’s decision not to grant her and Emma now 13 years old more extensive visiting rights. In my capacity as a private expert witness I argued that Emma had developed PAS and that she was unable to express her own will because of the heavy programming she has been exposed to since she was a baby.

In the verdict[12][12] from April 2003 PAS was mentioned twice, when my statement was referred as the court had understood it:

“When Emma was to attach to the family home mother the social welfare board decided about restrictions for Susan so that she was not allowed to see her child. The social welfare board thus acted as an alienator between mother and child. Emma’s contact with her mother is today seriously damaged as a consequence of all restrictions decided about their access. Such damage is called PAS – Parental Alienation Syndrome – and can be read off in a child’s behaviour. The only way of breaking the PAS condition is to remove Emma from the family home. It can take longer or shorter time for Emma to attach to her mother.”

The court decided, in spite of PAS as the cause for Emma not wanting to see her mother, not to judge otherwise than according to what had been recommended by the social agency and formally by the social welfare board.

Susan’s attorney at law has made three applications to the European court without success[13][13]. There have been 158 trials in the courts over the years.[14][14]

Case two. Erika, born in June 1991, was three and a half years old when her mother was said to be no good for her.

Ann and Åke were married longing for children. When Ann at last got pregnant marital problems arose. When their daughter Erika was born she had colic for three months, something Åke couldn’t stand. When Erika screamed he could start screaming, something Ann said she wanted to protect Erika from. Åke moved out. After their separation Ann wanted Erika to meet her father but in her presence. The problems grew; Åke phoned at nights and had difficulties to accept that he couldn’t come whenever he wanted. The parents started to fight about custody and contact. Ann moved with Erika. When Erika was 2.5 years old Ann, who was tired from calls and visits at night from Åke and from her fibromyalgia, asked the social authorities to have some help for example one weekend a month so that Erika then could stay with another family and Ann could have some rest. This is a social service called contact family that can be granted by the social agency for single parents who need some rest.

Ann did not get that help. Instead her ability as a mother was questioned, when at the same time it was to be decided in court where Erika should live, by her mother as she did, or by her father. The social authorities decided that Ann, Erika – and Åke – should all be observed together in a child psychiatric clinic where they had to stay day and night for four weeks. This was a difficult situation for all of them, especially for Ann who did not have the sympathy of the staff at the clinic or of anyone in the social agency, as had Åke. Ann’s behaviour was questioned, by Åke and by the staff.

The observations at the clinic clearly demonstrated that Erika, then 2 years and 7 months old, was attached to her mother. No disturbances other than those that could be attributed to the unnatural situation being at the clinic were reported in the medical records. Here one example:

“Erika is often worried and goes crying to stand close to Ann. When Ann at last leaves, Erika’s anxiety and crying increase and she runs around looking for her mother. Once she went into a corner sucking her thumb.”

Ann was observed while changing Erika´s diapers and it was reported that she didn’t realise that these occasions were similar to child abuse. There was a natural explanation why Erika did not to like to be changed: she had suffered from severe constipation several times and one month before admission for psychiatric observations had been operated on for the removal of an anal polyp. These natural explanations for Erika’s pains in her private parts were not considered by the staff in the clinic or by the social agency. They thought then and later that Ann was somehow sexually offending Erika, something Ann had thought that Åke might have done, after having been questioned by the doctor who operated Erika if she had any such suspicions.

When the observations after four weeks stay at the psychiatric clinic ended, Erika was described by the psychiatrist in charge as having disturbed behaviour. Ann was found to be an unfit mother, denying her problems and not seeking help enough. Here is what the psychiatrist wrote:

“Although she cares very much for the girl, Ann has no empathy in function for the girl’s autonomous needs, and she seems to experience herself and the girl as a mental unit. Ann has a manifest consciousness about the girl’s behaviour disturbances, but shows no need to accept help from her surroundings. Ann always has rationalized reasons for her own and the girl’s behaviour.”

On the other hand the psychiatrist wrote that Åke hade not “demonstrated any signs of unfitness as a parent”. The observations regarding the girl and the father, according to the psychiatrist cooperating with the social agency:

“show adequate quality and we have in this context seen nothing of the behaviour described by Ann.”

The father was not discussed in terms of his mental disturbance, but the mother was seen as mentally disturbed by the staff. They had observed her at the clinic together with Åke, from whom she had escaped, and who slandered her as mother for their child. One doctor remarked:

“Still perceive this mother as evidently mentally disturbed as everyone here in the hospital has. But cannot see that I can report her at all for neglect of the child. There are no signs of trauma or damage to the child.”

The social agency some weeks later decided, although there was no proof of neglect in Ann’s care, that Erika, then 3 years old, ought to be moved to a “qualified family home” for a “longer stay.” Erika, 3.5 years old, was taken by force from her mother in December 1994. The “care” in the “family home” to be ended, i.e. the preconditions for Erika to be allowed to return home to Ann, were:

that Erika has reached a stability, maturity and trust in her surroundings and that it is judged to be lasting,

that Ann has reached a lasting stability and maturity and insight about Erika’s needs,

that Ann has gained lasting insight and learnt into and learnt to control situations where she easily gets into a state of mental insufficiency,

that Ann has gained lasting stability and maturity in relation to other people.”

The authority with the power to decide whether these conditions had been fulfilled was the social agency that formulated the conditions.

The social agency placed Erika in a foster home. She was allowed to see her mother shortly once in January, once in February, once in May and once in August. In September

1995 Erika was allowed to see her mother under the supervision of a psychologist, a psychiatrist and social workers at a new clinic for one day. This was part of the second child psychiatry investigation, requested by the social agency. This time the mother was observed to have:

“used words that are abstract and doesn’t show any ability to empathise with Erika, she is not sensitive to the wishes and the needs of the child. The mother also violates Erika’s integrity during play but however we cannot observe any physical violations. Some warmth between mother and daughter can be observed.”

The father was also observed with Erika at the clinic. He was praised for his ability to meet the child’s needs and for his opinion, shared by the social agency and the expertise, that the mother was unfit to be a mother to Erika:

“The father also expresses his relief that Erika has been placed in a family home as he has been very worried about her situation due to the mother’s lack of ability as a parent.”

The experts recommended placement during the years Erika was growing up, something they called “placement during childhood and adolescence”, a concept not mentioned in the Swedish law. Below a quotation from the conclusions written by the chief physician, the psychologist and the social worker:

“Erika has been greatly damaged concerning the development of her personality. In a safe and stable setting she has now developed in a positive direction but we judge that she has a fragile and easily damaged personality at great risk of future mental problems and also of a negative development of her personality. /…/

We judge it as totally out of question that her biological parents would be able to take the parental responsibility. We therefore recommend a placement during childhood and adolescence and also a transfer of custody to the family home parents. /…/

We judge that the contact with the biological mother is so trying for Erika that it must be restricted more than before to let’s say one hour per occasion at most once a month.”

It was also said that the best would be to let Erika meet her mother outside the foster home, in a “neutral setting”, and under strict supervision:

“The mother and Erika must not under any circumstances be left alone which is why a third person must be present the whole time.”

Erika’s contact with her mother was restricted to only a few short supervised contacts and a few telephone calls during 1996 (January, March, May, June). To stand this difficult situation Ann worked more than full time as a telephone seller.

The social agency then for the third time requested that Erika and her parents be investigated by a child psychiatry team. Erika, then 5 years old, was in the end of September 1996 moved to a clinic where she had to stay four weeks. One of these weeks the mother was demanded to come, and another week the father. There were now six new experts judging Erika and her parents, after a separation of 2.5 years, again in a totally unnatural setting.[15][15] Below two excerpts from the summary after four weeks in the clinic are given:

“The biological mother’s relation to Erika is obviously destructive. The bio mother is not capable of protecting Erika against dangers. What is worse, the bio mother has a theory of her own that Erika should not be protected, that Erika is worse off when protected. The bio mother lacks the ability to see Erika as an independent individual. She sees herself and Erika as one unit, describes ´invisible bonds´ between them.” /…/

The mother told me about what lay behind the accusations of no protection. In company with several observers, she had been allowed to go for a walk with her daughter. She had then encouraged Erika to balance when she judged there was no danger for Erika if she fell. She had also told the observers that she thought it important for a child to learn by doing and to try things.

Here is another quotation from the summary of the third child psychiatry investigation:

“The family home must be given the authority to keep up Erika’s boundaries totally. It is necessary that the family home should be psychological parents also in reality. The bio mother must be stopped from psychologically invading the family home. One example of such an invasion was that she did not approve of the shoes bought for Erika by the family home. The bio mother’s telephone calls with Erika must end totally. Since every such telephone call means a trespass on Erika’s boundaries, where she has to protect herself against her mother’s trespassing.”

The substitute parents, that is the social agency, the experts they asked to investigate, and the foster parents they had chosen, all said that it was no good for Erika to be with her mother, or her father. The opinion expressed by the foster mother was quoted in the third investigation made:

“She has a hope that Erika with time will have an inner ability to keep her personal boundaries. She thinks that the visits by the parents have disturbed Erika’s development in that respect.”

The social agency and the politicians responsible decided, on the recommendation of the child psychiatry team, that Erika should be allowed to meet her mother twice a year under the supervision of a staff member outside the foster home, and that the mother and Erika should not be allowed to speak on the phone.

Ann appealed and argued that she wanted to see her daughter at least three hours every fourth week and to be allowed to phone her daughter once a week. She argued that the restrictions were against the intentions in the law related to forced custody and against the EU convention on human rights and against the UN convention of children’s rights.

The court argued against her appeal:

“The restrictions in contact, according to the appealed decision, are in accordance with the latest child psychiatric statement. What the mother has argued in support of her appeal and what has emerged otherwise do not constitute sufficient reason for abandoning what has been judged by child psychiatric expertise to be necessary for the best of Erika. “

Erika was 6 then, and the contact with her mother was totally broken for one year, because the social agency reported Ann to have succeeded sexual boundaries with Erika, under supervised access, a report that was found to be not substantiated by the police. Gradually the social agency has allowed Erika to see her mother more often than twice a year, at most once a month for three hours under the supervision of a social worker. The amount of time has lately been altered to five hours a month. One year ago Ann asked the social agency if she could be allowed to see her daughter without supervision. She was supported in her request by the foster parents.

In 2003 when Erika will be 12 years old, Ann tells me that Erika, who has rejected Ann, not for a long time even knowing that she was her mother, has started calling her mother. Ann says she had to adjust to the violations of her child’s and her own human rights to family life. She states:

  • The violations pale now when there has been a change for the better.

Case three. Jenny born in May 1990 was separated from her mother Jean at two months. Her sister, Jessica, born in November 1991, was separated from Jean when she came back with her mother from their 8- year exile in Serbia.

 

Jenny was a much longed for child, born in May 1990. The delivery had been traumatic involving the use of the vacuum extractor and fundal pressure. Jenny had frequent regurgitations and couldn’t use her right arm properly (the cause was damage to the brachial plexus and a small degree of injury to the brain could not be excluded). The parents took Jenny to the baby clinic weekly, where she was weighed naked and treated by a physiotherapist for her damaged arm. There were no reports about fractures or bruises. When Jenny was two months old her parents took her to hospital to be examined after they had discovered that her damaged right arm was swollen. The admitting doctor in the course of his examination did not find any bruises on the arm. He also did not see any evidence of injury on the legs, according to the medical record. Swelling of the lower part of the left thigh was not seen by anybody until the afternoon of the 30th of July. The parents hade brought Jenny in the morning of that very same day.

Some bruises discovered later during that same day in hospital, and three fractures found after x-ray examination caused the chief physician to report the parents to the social agency for child abuse. Two days after the social agency decided to take Jenny into compulsory public care.

The chief physician did not consider brittle bone disease, as did Dr C.R. Paterson from Scotland, who has been concerned with research and patient care in the field of bone disease since 1964. In March 1991 Dr Paterson, who had investigated Jenny on Jenny’s parents´ request, wrote a thorough report after examination of Jenny, her journals, her radiographs, family history of diseases and the clinical information, where he states:

“ While there can be little doubt that some form of brittle bone disease played a significant part in the causation of Jenny’s fractures, it is not clear which form is most likely to be present.”

Jenny had then already been taken into forced custody, and had not been allowed to see her parents. Jean became pregnant when the parents had good hope to have Jenny back, after Dr Paterson’s report, and the report by a psychologist who already in the beginning of December 1990 had concluded that she had found nothing in support of child abuse or anything making these parents unfit as parents.

The parent’s good hope turned to despair. They didn’t get Jenny back, after Dr Paterson’s report, showing evidence for brittle bone disease. Instead the social agency decided to take also the awaited child into forced custody, to protect her, as they in their view protected Jenny from her parents abuse. The parents fled to Jenny’s father’s home country at war, Serbia. Their second daughter Jessica was born there in November 1991.

For two years, Jean has told me, she and her husband wrote to all authorities they could, and fought every day to have Jenny back. After this, Jean says, that the children’s father has had no energy left to fight against the social agency. He studies a lot, his parents fight for their grand children.

While living in Serbia Jessica learnt the language from her father and his parents, who were very close, and of course Swedish from her mother. Jessica grew up her first seven years in life in Serbia, knowing she had a sister, but she never went to visit Jenny in Sweden. The parents called Jenny in her foster home on the phone, wrote cards to Jenny and visited her once. That was in 1993, and at that time the police ordered visitation of their home. The police came with two officials from the social agency. Later Jean has learnt that the local police had also made inquiries for them by Interpol.

The marriage broke. Jean went to Sweden, when her mother had died and she had to have an operation. Jessica stayed with her father and her grand parents in Serbia. Jean intensified the fight for having Jenny back. Jenny had been moved from her first foster home to another one in 1994. She didn’t want to see or talk to her mother. The social agency had told Jenny that her parents had abused her and broken her bones when she was a baby.

The children’s father who had great difficulties to stand the humiliation not to be able to have Jenny back, wanted to get away by working on a ship. Jean then went to Serbia and brought Jessica to Sweden in the beginning of 1999. Jessica was then seven years old and was to start school in autumn. Jean thought it a good idea for Jessica to meet future class mates and practise Swedish by attending the church’s preschool. Jessica was appreciated by the teachers and the other children there, and later at school. She was, according to her teacher, curious to learn, and did well her first weeks.

Suddenly one day Jessica was taken from school! The second of September 1999 two policemen and two social workers came and took Jessica to a secret address. The day before the same social workers had visited Jessica and her mother after having had a report from the social agency where Jessica’s sister Jenny lived, since that agency had had a report saying that Jenny’s and Jessica’s father had been reported to the police for suspected abuse. The first of September when the social agency visited they said they were coming back the next week. But as mentioned they came back the next day, together with the police. They claimed that the mother had not protected Jessica and now they had decided to protect Jessica by taking her into forced custody.

Jessica was placed 100 kilometres from home in an institution with many other children who came from broken and problematic homes. Jessica, who really had enjoyed school and liked her teacher, was cut off from school and her friends, as well as from her mother and her grandparents. One female in the staff, Sheila , in close collaboration with the social agency, acted as a substitute mother. After one month of total isolation from her former net work the family girl Jessica was reported to have sexual contacts with the boys in the institution. Sheila talked to Jessica, asked her questions about sexual details. After one week Sheila reported to the social agency that Jessica had told her that she had been sexually abused by the man her mother had lived with after the return to Sweden.

The focus was thereby not on the conditions for Jessica in the institution, but on Jessica’s mother . She really was a bad person not capable of protecting her child, stated the social agency. But Sheila was a good person according to the social agency. She was close to Jessica and could comfort her (and help in the intensified denigration of Jessica’s mother).

Sheila was the one reporting to the social agency about Jessica in the institution. They wrote after three months’ stay and when the ban on visitation for the mother had been cancelled:

“Jean visited Jessica in the institution twice a week accompanied by the staff, to prevent a negative influence on Jessica. The time of access was prolonged from one to two hours per occasion.”

After nine months in the institution when Jessica had stopped talking her Serbian native language and learnt a lot of things a little girl ought not to know about sexuality, stealing and so forth, she was placed in a second foster home (the first one in which the social agency had placed her was not considered qualified enough). This family home was situated 300 kilometres away from Jessica’s mother.

Sheila from the institution where Jessica was kept before by the social agency, where she was missing her school, was allowed by the social agency to visit Jessica when she wished, but Jessica’s mother was not allowed to visit at all.

When Jessica had been transferred her mother wrote to the local politicians responsible:

“My daughter needs peace and quiet, after having been placed in a children’s home for nine months and after what she has endured during her time in forced custody. Now it has come to my knowledge that her foster home is also a foster home on duty. I wonder if it has been considered what is best for Jessica. /…/ I only want what is best for my daughter, and am persistent if something is wrong, and is then considered to be a troublesome person. But the social agency only stresses negative things about me in order to win.”

 

The Serbian grand parents who had been very important in Jessica’s first seven years in life, were not allowed to visit or call Jessica. When they wrote to the social agency and complained that Jessica had been placed with strangers, also criticizing that Sheila was allowed to visit Jessica in the foster home but not her mother or grandparents, they got a letter saying:

“That Sheila visits Jessica is due to her having become an important person for Jessica, a person Jessica herself wants to meet. /…/

The family home has our full confidence, They are kind and caring towards Jessica, which is their task.”

After half a year in the “family home” Jessica was taken by the social agency to a psychologist specialized on sexual trauma. She investigated Jessica and recommended therapy (by herself) for at least a year twice a week the first half year. This expert conducted her investigation and her therapy on request by the social agency, who also informed her, as they had informed the “family home.”

The psychologist had thus been informed that Jessica had not been protected by her mother, when Jessica had been traumatized by her father’s physical abuse and by sexual abuse perpetrated by the man living with Jessica’s mother. These were two alleged crimes decided not to be prosecuted. The alleged crimes were taken for granted as the foundation for the therapy given to Jessica. A child who is not a victim of sexual abuse but is treated as if she was can be severely damaged by such a treatment. But of course it serves as a powerful tool in alienating the mother and everything connected to her.

The social agency writes in their report about the rejection, as if it was the child’s own will:

“In the end of October Jean phoned Jessica and said (my remark: how can the social agency know what the mother said on the phone before they had started bugging?) that if she didn’t talk to her grandparents they would come and fetch her. Jessica had then answered her mother that if she kept threatening her, Jessica would report her mother to the police. The mother had answered that the father, she herself and the grandparents would come for her. Jessica went out to the family home father so that he could hear the mother’s threats. Jean denied that she had threatened her daughter. Jessica commented that the mother lies very much. To her instructor from the social agency Jessica said that she wanted the phone calls to be bugged, as was done in the institution she lived, that was much better.”

In November 2000 the instructor from the social agency (a person Jessica’s mother had tried to have replaced) wrote to Jean:

“Hello!

Sue (the foster mother, my remark) informed me this morning that Jessica refuses to talk to you until the calls can be bugged.

 With a friendly greeting,

 SS, social secretary.”

After this Jessica called once to her mother, and thereafter Jessica didn’t want to phone her mother, according to the record written by the social agency.

The programming proves to have been efficient. When Jessica had said she didn’t want to speak to her grand parents, the social agency reports in the record kept:

“/…/ The son in the family repeated that the grandparents had to respect Jessica’s will, or otherwise it must be seen as molestation and be reported to the police. After this the telephone calls ended for a while.”

When the grandfather called again after some months the social agency wrote:

“The grand father argued hat he had a right to his grand child. He wanted to speak to Jessica. The family home mother then asked Jessica to tell her grand father what she wanted. Jessica looked afraid, but came to the phone and said that she didn’t want to speak with them. The grand father doubted this. He also said that he would come and see for himself and hang up. Jessica said afterwards ´think if they come and fetch me.´ ”

That Jessica could have been afraid (it must have been the foster mother who had reported that Jessica looked afraid to the social agency on this occasion) because she knew that she must reject her grandfather in the presence of the foster mother, is not something that comes into the mind of anyone in the social agency.

The grandparents called, and the foster home changed its phone number. The social agency stated in their report:

“On a political social agency meeting 2000-12-14, where Jean chose not to participate, prohibition of access for Jean was decided, and it was decided that she would only be allowed to speak to Jessica every second week and that the calls should then be bugged.”

The same instructor from the social agency as before, social secretary SS, wrote a letter to Jean the 20th of December in 2000:

“Hello!

Now the family home has a new phone number you can call, (the number). Telia has promised it will be installed the 21st of December,. We decided that they shall have the line open every second Sunday 19.30-20.00 starting now Sunday the 24th of December. Sundays, because we think it suits you as this is the only day you are free during the week and in the evening so that the family home is free to do other things during the day. Jessica doesn’t want you to give this number to her grandfather or grandmother.”

The social agency reports constantly that Jessica doesn’t want to see her mother and that Jessica doesn’t want to talk to her grandparents. The officials from the social agency are satisfied that Jessica is afraid and prefers them, they write in the same report: [16][16]

“”The mother phoned on Christmas eve, the first possible time for her to phone, after the family home had opened a special phone for her calls. She told Jessica that it is illegal to bug and that she has presents at home that Jessica can have when they meet. She also said that she didn’t intend to call more, which she hasn’t. Jessica has said that was a relief. When the instructor from the social agency talked to Jessica about seeing her mother during spring Jessica could agree to see her mother in Norrköping together with the family home father and the social agency. “

The social agency then wrote to Jessica’s mother that she could see Jessica on the railway station in Norrköping (200 kilometres from Jean) for one hour under supervision of them and the father from the foster home.

The mother refused to see her daughter under these humiliating circumstances where contact between them would be impossible.

The trauma Jessica suffered when she 8 years old from one day to another was cut off from her mother was not investigated or considered by the social agency or the psychologist it contacted. The continuous traumatisation going on with cutting her off not only from her mother, but of her whole family, her language, school and network of neighbours and friends, was not considered either.

All actions have been motivated by the social agency with the argument that they are responsible for the protection of Jessica. The feedback that this has harmed Jessica, instead of helped her, never comes through, as Jessica is kept isolated from her mother, seemingly of her own will preferring to stay in her “family home.”

Jessica’s mother wrote on the 10th of January in 2001 a letter to the social agency:

“I request that the forced custody of my daughter Jessica Svensson ends. Your care of her is destructive and harmful. As you know, and according to witnesses Jessica was a very caring girl until you took her in September 1999. The latest reports about her are very worrying and I know my daughter better than anyone of you. As the contact between me and Jessica because of you has been minimal I see a very dangerous development in her. First you place her in the institution where abuse takes place. Then in a foster home where the foster mother is not cooperative and is about to mentally break down my daughter.

 

                      With a friendly greeting

                      Jean Svensson”

The problems, arising while in forced custody, are found by the social agency to have been caused by the mother’s neglect. After half a year in the foster home, instructed by the therapy institution specialised in sexual abuse, the social agency stated in their report:

“According to the therapy institution specialised in sexual abuse where the psychologist works it is important that Jessica is made safe as much as possible and that contacts with relatives who makes her worry are minimized so that Jessica can profit from the therapy given.”

The social agency, ignorant of how it has abused and keeps abusing Jessica, reports in April 2001 :

“In a telephone call with Jessica 2001-04-24 she told that she had listed some things she wanted to read loud:

‘she (Jessica’s mother, my remark) doesn’t need to send me anything. I manage without.´

´I do not want to see her, because she does foolish things.

´I do not like her when she lies.´

´I do not want to talk to her.´”

Their alienation process had succeeded completely. Jessica was reported to, by her own will, totally reject her mother with absurd explanations and borrowed adult expressions and words.

 

In the end of the report the social agency listed all the attempts made by the mother and the grandparents to report the social agency to supervising authorities. The social agency was content to have won in every instance.

 

The conclusive judgment from the social agency presented in the report to the court was:

“The investigation implies that Jean still has no insight in her daughter’s need for care and that she cannot se her own participation in the traumas Jessica has endured. Jean lacks ability to understand that the different symptoms Jessica now presents emanate from Jean’s lack of nursing capability. On the contrary Jean claims that Jessica has been mentally damaged while in forced custody. It is a considerable risk that Jessica’s health and development will be damaged and that she will suffer more traumatic experiences if the mother’s wish that forced custody shall be ended is met.”

The wish expressed by the social agency to keep Jessica in their care was met by the court. Jessica, 12 years old, has no contact at all with her mother.

Today Jessica’s elder sister Jenny, 13 years old in 2003, has some contact with her mother. Jean thinks Jenny was abused in her first foster home. The explanation given by the social agency for moving her from there to a new foster home in 1994 was economic. The social agency has long wanted to transfer the legal guardianship to the new foster home, but the foster parents do not think that is the right thing to do. The social agency has then decided to transfer the legal guardianship to an elderly woman, a lawyer, who has met Jenny twice. Jean, who according to what she says, has a rather good contact with Jenny’s new foster parents, has agreed to Jenny staying with them, on a voluntary basis, including regular monthly visits for Jenny with her mother. The court will decide in May 2003, if Jean will loose the legal guardianship she has (and now wants to share with her former husband).

On the 24th of April in 2003 when I talked to Jean on the phone she said that yesterday she had been on a meeting with the social agency and the psychologist, still giving Jessica therapy, for the abuse that has been found unsubstantiated by the police. Jean had asked critical questions. The instructor from the social agency had pointed out to Jean that she is an official. This is a fact. Jean, who has full time work as an assistant nurse within psychiatry, explained to me, after her 13 years fight to have her children back:

  • I know that they are in power and that our children never will be allowed to come home. But I want to help others if I can, and prevent others from the suffering we have had and have.

Case four. Four children were separated from their mother Eliza. Eve born in March 1987,  Eileen born in July 1988 and Ellen born in November 1996 were taken into compulsory public custody in December 1996. After a court decision in October 1997 that all three were to live with their mother Eliza the two oldest were allowed to return, but not Ellen. Eve and Eileen were placed in a foster home again in March 1999. Eliza’s youngest child, Olle, born in January 2001, was separated from her as newborn in February 2001, but was allowed to come home when he was 1.5 years old.

 

Eliza moved from the north of Sweden to have a less heavy job than the one she had in a slaughter-house, where a slaughter body had fallen on her back, giving her bad back pains. She met Paul in the bakery where she found work. They got married and had two daughters. The oldest child Eve born in March 1987 had difficulties to sleep and to learn to talk and the parents sought help. She was diagnosed by medical doctors during the following years as having a developmental damage with autistic traits and was given special education. Their second child Eileen born in July 1988 had allergic and asthmatic problems. The parents decided to move to the country to have better living conditions for the children. Paul kept his work in the city and was not much at home, Eliza had two different halftime jobs that allowed her to take part in Eve’s special education. The situation was tough, and the marriage ended after ten years. The girls stayed with their mother who moved to a new apartment in the neighbourhood of Paul so that the girls could go and see their father.

Eliza longed for another child and when she got pregnant with a friend of Paul she decided to go through with it. Towards the end of her pregnancy and later she was threatened and beaten by that man.

Eliza spent four weeks in hospital before her third daughter Ellen was born in November 1996. During that period the abusive man was, for the first time, alone with Eve and Eileen in the apartment. Eliza was worried for them and she was very disturbed by the man’s behaviour towards them and towards her. She didn’t dare to tell about the threats and abuse she suffered. The staff in the hospital found Eliza’s behaviour and statements odd. In the journals it can be seen that the staff didn’t understand Eliza and disliked her. When she complained that her right knee had been hurting and asked for an examination she was not taken seriously (the knee was operated on four months later). When she said she had bad pains in her back, and that she threw up, she was thought to make this up, or she was said to exaggerate her medical problems. ( A disease of the oesophagus was diagnosed shortly after Ellen’s birth and Eliza was a year later twice operated for having a slipped disc.) The doctor in the child clinic reported that he was worried to the social agency in the community where Eliza lived. He also suggested that Eliza could be suffering from Munchausen’s syndrome, and might have invented illnesses for her two older daughters, indicating that Eliza was a case of suspected Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy.

Eliza and Ellen, a healthy child on 4000 grams, were kept against Elias’s will for ten days at the birth clinic. When they came home two social workers came and told Ellen’s parents to come to their office the next day. The choice they got was to live in an institution as the whole family was to be investigated, or that Ellen would otherwise be taken into forced custody for protective reasons.

Ellen’s father, i.e. the man who threatened and abused Eliza, had a sister who had the same boss as the social worker in charge. He was ordered to protect Ellen from Eliza. At the institution Eliza was able to move around in the wheel chair she needed when her back and knee pains were too bad, so that she could take care of her daughters. The staff at this institution had no complaints regarding the parenting and reported a healthy normal contact between mother and child. Nevertheless the social agency decided to move the family to another institution where they said there was an expert on Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy. Protests from the two oldest girls, the person in charge at the first institution, or from Eliza did not help. At the new institution it was impossible for Eliza to move around in her wheel chair. The oldest girls were not allowed to go to their ordinary schools as they had until then.

The social agency decided after just a few days in the new institution to take all three children into forced custody, and after four weeks that Ellen, then two months old, must be moved to a temporary foster mother 140 kilometres away, to be protected from her mother’s dangerous influence. Breastfeeding was ended from one day to another as well as the daily physical contact. Ellen was allowed to see her mother once a week under supervision by the social agency. The oldest girls and their mother were kept at this institution against their will for three months more.

Ellen’s father started work when Ellen had been moved to the temporary foster home. His mother, reported regularly to the social agency negative things about Eliza. According to her Eliza was unfit as a mother, and all the daughters would be better off in foster homes. Requested by the social agency a psychologist came to the institution to test, observe and to talk about the girls with the staff. She concluded that Eve was not developmentally damaged with autistic traits, as she has been repeatedly diagnosed by medical doctors. The psychologist talked about disturbed emotional relations between Eliza and her daughters, and concluded that Eliza was unfit to take properly care of her children. The oldest girls were moved to a religious foster home 2000 kilometres away. Ellen was placed in another foster home, also far away. The protests formulated by the temporary foster mother, that this was not in the best interest of the child, didn’t help. The temporary foster mother who gradually had become acquainted with Eliza, and thought of her as a good and caring mother, couldn’t understand why Ellen was not allowed to stay with Eliza. In a written statement given to Eliza’s lawyer she also demonstrated how Eliza had been described to her:

“From the staff at XX (the second institution) I was informed that Eliza was mentally ill and dangerous to her child and in general/…/ When I went to the foster mother together with a social worker she said that the child was to stay there for ever. `Here Ellen is to grow up.´”

The transfer of Ellen from the temporary foster home to a regular foster home, when Ellen was six months old, was made by the social agency before the court had decided if Ellen and her sisters should be in forced custody. When Ellen was 10 months old, in September 1997, the court decided that all three girls should come home and stay with their mother. The oldest girls were brought home, and started their schools and former activities. However Ellen was not allowed to come home, because the social agency forbade that.. They said that it is no good for small children to be moved. It became obvious that the social agency acted against the law. It then decided that Ellen should be taken to a third institution for three weeks where she was to meet her parents while the foster mother stayed there. The foster mother left after two days. Eliza, more so than Ellen’s father, took care of Ellen who, then 13 months old, started calling her “mummy” and according to a psychologist’s report got closed attached to her mother. After three weeks Eliza brought Ellen to a house on the country side to have some peace and quiet. The social worker in charge and the police came and took Ellen with force. In her and the third institution’s opinion, Ellen had not got attached to her mother, and had to be taken into forced custody and be brought back to the foster home.

The social agency and formally the political social board decided hat Eliza should not be allowed to come and visit, not to disturb Ellen.

The mother appealed every decision possible to appeal. Once more a court decided that Ellen was to be brought home immediately. The social agency considered the mother’s appeals and protests as proof of her diagnosis Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy. They asked a psychiatrist, considered to be an expert in Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, to make a statement. He never met Eliza or any of her children, but still diagnosed Eliza as both suffering from Munchausen’s syndrome and abusing her children and having Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, MSBP. From then on the courts have decided against the referral of Ellen to her mother.

The social journals document that Ellen had been traumatised by the loss of her mother when she had suddenly been separated from her for the second time in her short life, after three weeks of intense contact and rebonding. There are notes in the social records, after phone calls with the foster mother, that Ellen cannot sleep, is depressed, is aggressive towards her foster mother, has night mares, and at time cries constantly. The social agency considers the problems they describe to have been caused by Ellen’s contact with her mother, and decides to protect Ellen from her mother more than before. The child psychiatrist who had diagnosed Eliza as having Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy was phoned and asked for advice after a description of Ellen’s behaviour. Here is what is referred by the social agency:

“The behaviour Ellen is described to have is a destructive behaviour independent of what the cause is, says NN (the child psychiatrist). It is more than Ellen can take and the signal is to protect her from this strain. The situation is too difficult for Ellen. Ellen’s state can be compared to a brain damaged child, although Ellen has no damage. NN says that it is important to be observant of the signals from Ellen during contact. He suggests for example that the contacts become more infrequent, that the contacts become shorter, and that a photo of the parents is put in the family home for Ellen to keep an image of them. Through the contact the child is to keep the image of the parents alive for future needs, even if the child is not going home to the parents today or understands who they are.”

The MSBP diagnosis was also used in court when the social agency in March 1999 decided to take the two oldest daughters back to the former foster home in forced custody.

Eliza had reason to believe that Eve had been sexually abused in her foster home; she had during her first stay in the foster home developed a venereal disease according to the medical documentation. Eve stays there in a little cottage of her own (there is not enough room in the house for the four children the elderly foster parents have in forced custody). Eliza reported her suspicions to the police, but the report was sent to the social agency. The social agency answered that they fully trusted the foster home and that Eliza had mental problems. The police did no investigation regarding the mother’s report of suspected sexual abuse in the foster home.

The MSBP-diagnosis was used when Eliza gave birth to her fourth child, Olle, born in January 2001. He was taken into forced custody when he was 20 days old, after the social agency in Eliza’s new community had been informed the same morning by the social agency in her old community that she was dangerous to her children. The baby was taken by the police and social workers on duty while being breastfed by Eliza. Eliza and her husband decided that he should stay by their son’s side. The next day Eliza, who was not allowed to know where her husband and child were, said she wanted the social officials to give her son her breast milk, as he was born three weeks too early and needed it for his immune defence. They answered that it was not possible as it could be poisoned.

Son and father were kept at different institutions for 1.5 years. Eliza was after two weeks allowed to visit her son one hour a week under supervision by different social workers. She was not allowed to breastfeed or to give anything to eat to her son, as the social agency kept saying she could poison him. Eliza’s husband was given reports on Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy and was informed that Eliza was dangerous to her children. The social agency encouraged him repeatedly to make a choice between his child and his wife. He refused. He and Eliza kept calling each other and supported each other.

When Eliza got a life threatening cancer and was operated (July 2001) Eliza’s husband couldn’t be by her side, because they were both afraid that the social agency would then take the baby away. When Eliza informed the social agency about her cancer and asked if she could see her two eldest daughter to tell about the diagnosis herself the social workers said (according to Eliza’s lawyer who was present) to her that she exaggerated so as to be able to see her daughters. Eliza was not allowed to inform her daughters, the social agency did. Under the precondition that Eliza’s husband was not present the daughters were allowed to visit their mother in the hospital once under their supervision. The social agency had prepared the girls to ask questions to the doctor as they believe Eliza invents illnesses for herself and her children. The agency wrote in a report after the visit that Eliza had lied about her stomach pains to her daughters. They wrote that this was a lie as the girls when talking to the doctor in their presence and on their recommendation had learnt that:

“the cancer doesn’t bring about stomach pains.”

Eliza recovered from cancer.

Eliza’s fourth child was in spring 2002 allowed to be in forced custody in his home – but only if Eliza moved out. After some months more (and many meetings with the officials from the social agency ) Eliza was allowed to unite with her husband and their son. A psychiatrist, requested by the National Board of Health and Welfare to examine and diagnose Eliza, had clearly stated that the diagnoses made before were not correct.

The right to practise the human right to family life with her youngest child has strengthened Eliza to continue her fight for her other children, the three daughters still in forced custody. The social agency responsible for them argues that even if the old diagnoses are wrong Eliza is mentally ill and dangerous to her children, and that she is definitely unfit as a mother.

The denigration campaign has been intensified since Eliza has requested sole custody in order to be able to fight for Eve’s and Eileen’s right to be with their mother and father. Eliza and Paul decided in 1999 that the only chance then to have the girls back home, when Eliza had got the MSBP-diagnosis, was for Paul to have sole custody. Paul moved to a bigger apartment and waited for their daughters to return home. But the social agency did not taken any notice that ha had sole custody and wanted to have the girls to live there. In the very long fight to have the children back Paul has lost his energy. The social agency now says to Eliza that Paul wants the girls to stay in the foster home.

The oldest daughters were, against their parents’ will, placed in a free religious foster home. They have since the statement from the national Board of Health and Welfare about their mother having been wrongly diagnosed, been programmed that the devil lives in their mother. It’s because of the devil in their mother the girls said on the phone to their mother, that the diagnosis was altered, but they KNOW that she has Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, and they KNOW that she is dangerous.

They have not since then been available on the telephone times decided by the social agency (a quarter of an hour every second Monday 19.00-19.30), and they have refused to see their mother, on the rare occasions decided by the social agency (outside the foster home six times a year for two hours under supervision of one or two social workers). They met their mother once in 2003 and then told her, as did the social workers, that she must withdraw her request to have sole custody of them, and to take them home, or she will loose contact with them for ever.

The two girls have already lost contact with their mother’s family. When they were younger they usually stayed with Eliza’s parents for part of their summer holidays. Grandmother died in their home, that was when Ellen was not allowed, as they, to return, although their grandma had tried to explain to the social agency that the social agency had to obey the court decision. Their grandpa has not been allowed to come and visit them in the foster home they were brought back to. Not their aunt or their cousin on the mother’s side. It is a massive alienation.

Ellen doesn’t say anything about Eliza, because she doesn’t know that Eliza is her mother. But when they are allowed to meet (since 1999 every second month for two hours under supervision of the foster mother and a social worker) they play and talk. Eliza is worried because according to her Ellen is not respected or loved by her foster mother (Ellen was placed there when the foster mother’s youngest child had recently died). She is also worried because Ellen has bad and too small clothes, and has not had her eyes examined regularly although she has a squint.

Eliza has again in 2002 requested in court that the forced custody of Ellen shall be ended, now that it is proved that she is not a MSBP-case, and that she and her new husband live a normal family life with a little half brother. None of the sisters have been allowed by the social agency to see their brother Olle.

The custody conflict is manifest. The social agency acts to keep Eliza’s daughters in their forced custody. As an answer to Eliza’s latest request regarding having Ellen back home they stated that Ellen. 6.5 years old, is well in her family home, although it is documented that the child has not been medically examined since she was two years old. The social agency argues that the best for Ellen is to stay in the foster home chosen by them, as her mother Eliza

“has no insight in her problems.”

When this is stated by the social agency and repeated or quoted in court it is regarded as a fact, because this is the way the system works. The social agency is according to the statutes a neutral authority in charge of helping children and families, always acting in the best interest of the children.

But in this case, as in the other cases, the social agency is a parent substitute in a complicated custody conflict, defending partial interests, and not the child/the children sadly enough.

 

 

Case five. Dan was separated by force from his mother Marion when he was nearly 12. He was taken to a child psychiatric clinic, a children’s home, to a foster home, and then moved to a former alcoholic where he died from his epilepsy nearly 15 years old.

Dan was Marion’s third child, born after she had been divorced for a long time and her oldest children were adults. Dan’s father never lived with Marion. He has been absent in Dan’s life. Marion had several medical problems with her heart and her lungs, and had an early retirement because of that.

Dan was only 6 months old when he was taken to a child’s medical clinic because of his many infections. When he was one year old he was examined for a heart problem (later found not to have any functional importance). When Dan was five years old he started treatment for epilepsy. He matured physically to a man before he was 12 years old, probably because of a tumour in hypothalamus (according to his medical records).

Marion was worried when Dan was in day care and became infected. She wanted Dan to then be at home and recover, because of his medical problems, but Dan’s medical problems were not an issue for the staff at the day care institution who thought Marion exaggerated Dan’s problems. As she herself was not very healthy, she asked the social agency for support in order to be able to take better care of Dan. Her protection of Dan and her worries for her son were interpreted as over-protection. She was, by the social agency, seen as a threat for Dan’s healthy development. The social record states that Marion had a symbiotic relation to her son and that she was unable to set up boundaries for her son. The social agency in cooperation with the child psychiatry department where Dan was investigated, decided that it was best for Dan to move from his mother to an anthroposophic boarding school. It had very strict rules and it was far away from home for Dan. Marion objected and wanted Dan to stay with her and to have extra help by a teacher in his ordinary school. This idea of to get help to help yourself was not appreciated by the social agency.

Marion criticized the care given to Dan and the other children in the institution where Dan was placed. She contacted other parents who were also critical, and reported the institution to be inspected by the National Board of Health and Welfare. The staff at the boarding school found Marion impossible to cooperate with. The responsible social worker, S, from the social agency wrote in her journal that Dan had a

“constant conflict of loyalties between his mother and the school. Dan has difficulties to attach and to profit by the treatment, he must all the time be loyal to his mother and they have some contacts that the school not fully appreciates.”

Dan was taken to the child psychiatry department and after several months he was placed in a children’s home by the social agency. He was then nearly 12 years old but looked like a man.

S explained that Dan was to stay there until they had found a qualified “family home” or another special home. Dan’s studies were stopped and he only got five hours’ school a week in the children’s home. S visited Dan and talked to the staff. She wrote the following in her journal after ten days placement and a meeting she had had with the director for the children’s home, three of the employees there, and the director for the social agency:

“The children’s home has reacted with force on Marion’s and Dan’s relation and their contact. They think that it is a curious relationship between mother and son. Dan is very demanding; ´climbing´ has a lot of body contact with Marion, provokes her and pushes her. Marion tries to defend herself but has difficulties to handle the contact with her son by herself. It is noticed that she kisses him on his cheek a little too much, considering Dan’s age. /…/ I describe Dan’s and Marion’s relation, and inform about Dan’s person whom I do not consider adequate for his age, he is on a much lower level but starts signalling that he wishes an emancipation from Marion out of the ‘symbiotic´ relation that Marion and Dan have had earlier during Dan’s whole life.”

Dan’s home vanished when his mother was evicted, because she had not been able to pay a month’s rent. S wrote in her record that the monthly child benefit from the state for Dan “goes to the social agency to help Marion buy clothes for Dan.” Marion was consequently marginalized and humiliated, as was Dan when he was forced to stay in a children’s home, not allowed to go to school, or to go home.

The social agency found a foster home they thought qualified. The foster parents was a newly married couple where the man had interrupted his third treatment for his drug addiction and the mother had a son in Dan’s age with an unknown father and a child on its way with her husband. They were invited by the social agency to the children’s home to meet Dan in May 1989.

The social agency decided to take Dan into forced custody as they found Marion not cooperative and not having insight about Dan’s needs. Dan was transported by the social agency to his foster home 400 kilometres away later in the summer, when the foster mother had given birth, and the couple had taken two young juvenile criminals also as additional foster children. Marion decided that she would move up in the neighbourhood and start studying in a folk’s high school there, so that she could regularly see Dan. The first time she visited Dan’s “family home,” was when he had been there a few weeks. She came on a notified visit together with S. The next day, when she had stayed to arrange for her studies, she made an unnotified visit to the foster home. Dan was the only one awake at 11 pm, watching video, according to the mother. The foster father came down and told Marion she was not welcome that day, or any other day.

Dan had by the social agency been separated from his mother and placed first in an institution/boarding school far away from home, then in a psychiatric clinic, then in a children’s home without school, and then in a foster home far away from his home which had been broken up. The unsafety and lack of love and care he had experienced was not commented on by the social agency. S wrote in her investigation presented to the court to have the forced custody and transfer of Dan to the chosen foster home confirmed legally:

“Dan has his special difficulties and handicaps which have been exaggerated and reinforced by his mother’s over-protection and constant worry. He has little insight or ability to handle his situation and his motoric perceptual handicap. /…/

He must have harmony and peace in his living so that he can begin a personality development. /…/ Dan must have help to grow up in another home setting, where one lives a more regular and connected life. A setting with adequate size for Dan to understand, catch up with and grasp every day. A setting that both activates him and stimulates him, but is at the same time restricted and understandable.”

A child psychiatrist who was a former colleague to the social worker who had helped S to find the foster home for Dan, wrote on request by the social agency the following statement to the court in June 1989:

“The problems, that have evolved from early infant years, must therefore be related to the outspoken difficulties, the biological mother has, to give her son such care and to put up such boundaries as children need. Therefore a placement in a family home seems to be the only credible alternative. In such a future family home placement of Dan, it is of great importance that the mother’s contact with him is restricted, so that the placement gives the boy possibilities, not only to root in his new setting, but also to be relieved from unnecessary loyalty conflicts in accordance with earlier patterns that would considerably obstruct the placement.

When S previously had written to the medical doctor responsible for Dan about Dan she had asked if it was not enough regarding Dan’s special needs that the former colleague, SS, of the child psychiatrist was involved in the case:

“The official in charge of handling Dan’s family home is SS and she has worked 17 years in the rehabilitation of disabled children in X-town. Can that not be seen as satisfying enough?”

Dan’s doctor answered in July, when the foster home was already chosen, that he took it for granted that they very carefully would pick a foster home with experiences of children with behavioural impairments as Dan had, and knowledge about how to take care of children with seizures.

S must have known that the foster home she and SS had picked didn’t fulfil the criteria set up by Dan’s doctor. But the documented fact that S was personally provoked and frustrated by Marion, was more important. In her position, S had the power to judge Marion as unfit to raise Dan for the rest of his youth. S concluded in her investigation to the court:

“As implied by the investigation Dan’s home setting has a pattern of upbringing with wrongful demands and inadequate boundaries. This together with mental stress expose Dan to such situations that his mental health and his social development is threatened. /…/

The investigator’s understanding is that: the most serious in Dan’s development is his lack of fundamental identity, caused by the fact that Dan never gets physical and psychical peace to develop his ability and his person. The investigator suggests placement in family home according to the LVU-law all the time ahead until adult life and living of his own.”

Dan’s seizures came more and more often in the foster home. He was not regularly checked for his epilepsy as he should have been or otherwise medically examined. The responsibility for his medical care was not transferred to a new doctor where he had been moved until two years had passed. S thought the most important thing was for Dan to loose weight. Dan wrote in the beginning of the placement to his mother that he was not allowed to eat as much as he wanted. Dan’s mother was very sad and extremely worried for the well-being of her son, but when she called doctors and teachers she was told that they had nothing to say regarding Dan to her. S was the one who informed everyone about Dan – and about Marion’s harmful influence on him. S visited Dan in the foster home, at the same time as she had supported that Marion should not be allowed to come at all. The social agency paid very well for Dan’s stay, and also for a teacher, something they had not wanted to do when Dan lived with his mother.

The foster mother claimed, and the social agency supported the claim, that it was Marion who was responsible for Dan’s gradually getting more frequent seizures. They said that it was when he had talked to Marion that he had his attacks. The answer to that was for the social agency to restrict Dan’s contact with his mother, even more than they had already done. They decided about no contact at all. The social workers, S and SS, who investigate, decide, execute the decisions and evaluate their own activities, wrote before the decision:

“Dan is often feeling very bad when having talked on the phone with his mother. He sweats a lot, gets anxiety and seizures the days after.”

The social agency explained to the authority the mother had forwarded her complaints and worries to, that the contact prohibition was decided

“as an effort to help Dan in the conflict of loyalties he experienced regarding

his mother and which was considered to influence his epilepsy.”

When Dan called Marion others in the foster home listened. He was called his mother’s spy by the foster parents. The authority investigator declared in her report that:

“The opinion from the family home is that Dan had his mother’s mission to control the family and report their activities and that he also was rewarded by her.”

Dan was told by his parent substitutes that Marion didn’t want to see him and that she was bad for him. He stopped writing letters, or even to ask Marion for money as he had done. He also stopped calling her.

If there had been any truth in the declarations of Marion being the cause of Dan’s seizures they would have stopped when Dan’s contacts with his mother were totally broken , but they didn’t.

Dan died, nearly 15 years old, from a series of major seizures. That was after he had experienced sexual abuse in the foster home, and had been moved to a former alcoholic, who was to be approved of by the social agency as Dan’s new foster home.

It has been decided in court that the social agency did nothing wrong.[17][17] The message is: social agencies as parent substitutes are allowed to alienate children from their parents, that is they are allowed to psychologically abuse children, as it is considered as protection of the child.

Discussion

Among Swedish politicians and professionals there is a strong confidence in the compensatory powers of foster care, which is reflected both in legislation and practise.[18][18]

In the five investigated cases[19][19] the mothers have provided normal, loving parenting, but the fathers have been absent from the beginning or have become absent during the separation and struggle to have the children back, a fact that has probably contributed to the heavy alienation of the mothers by the father substitute, in power to decide that children need to be compensated and taken from their parents.

 

Is there something in common regarding the parent substitutes as alienators?

 

In the five cases the social agency has acted as alienator. In comparison with an alienating parent in a custody conflict, the social agency as alienator has an incomparable strong power position. The social agency has, in the cases described here, been embodied in a female social worker who has from the very start taken a personal interest in the case and acted out her antipathy against the children’s mothers, not only for some time but during many years. This personal and prestigious involvement has of course not been acknowledged, but it is very obvious in a close reading of the social journals written. As a prestigious public authority figure she has got support from the rest of the social agency, the experts involved by the social agency, the politicians in the social board formally responsible for the decisions to cut off the children from their mothers, the courts and the supervising authorities, including the Swedish Parliamentary Commissioner for the Judiciary and Civil Administration.

In June 2002, the Competition for the Sporrong Lönnroth Prize was about a case similar to the ones here presented. The Competition which was initiated by professor Jacob Sundberg, who still is in charge, has been going on every year since 1984. The idea is that law students from the Nordic countries before judges from the European Court shall have a process from the point of the European Convention for Human Rights.[20][20]

It has in the past been possible to have complaints in forced custody cases accepted in the European Court for Human Rights.[21][21] The fact that the present states in Sweden and Finland have been criticized has not resulted in a reunion between the alienated children and their parents.[22][22] The verdicts of guilty from the European Court for Human Rights have not either made the state change the power given to the social agencies.[23][23]

Similar to parents in a custody conflict where one of them gains advantages by accusing the other to have abused the child, sexually or physically, this can also be seen in the cases of alienation of children resulting in PAS in forced custody conflicts.

The experts referred to by the accusing/alienating part are more listened to than the experts referred to by the accused/alienated part. This is the case even if the alienated part in the conflict has statements from well known medical experts, saying that the parent can not be blamed for the symptoms in their children, because the symptoms are of genetic origin or caused by well documented illness, birth damages or traumatization after separation from their parents.

The parents substitutes being the authorities responsible for the protection of children can argue that their actions of separating the child from a parent, is in the best interest of the child, a protection of the child. A mother believed to be dangerous for her child by an official from a social agency cannot argue that her child is dependent on her and needs her. That is against the system and can be used against her (see above) by the authorities in the social welfare state, as they tend to see the child as an individual, that stands by itself, independent of his/her family and family roots.[24][24]

Do the alienated mothers have something in common?

The mothers in the five cases have one thing in common: they have not been helpless and help seeking, but strong and stubborn. They have fought for their children’s lawful rights and have challenged the social agency by opposing the actions and restrictions. They have told the social officials that they were acting against the law, or against the intention of the law (as is true sadly enough).

The officials from the social agency are not comparable with a parent in a parental conflict as the social agency, the substitute parent, has a power position by being a public authority. The other part, the mother, in the custody conflict has no power at all.

The mothers had, at the time for forced separation, provided normal, loving parenting, but the fathers had been absent or weak, a fact that has probably contributed in different ways to deepen the alienation of the mothers by the father substitute.

The mothers as individuals with their unique personalities, bad and good sides, have had less importance than the descriptions of them as unfit/dangerous mothers. Negative, but no positive characteristics and actions, have been attributed to them, more and more over time. The constructed pictures[25][25] of the mothers as having an “inner chaos”, as unfit, as not protective enough, as a MSBP-case, or as over-protective, have proven to be very vigorous and not possible for the mothers to conquer. The social agency has the preferential right of interpretation. When questioned or criticised by the mothers knowledgeable about their and their children’s rights the social agency has acted to defend itself and the officials´ prestige by denigrating the mothers and use the children in their denigration campaign, something the mothers have not been able to fight successfully against.

How severely have the children been harmed?

The ten children involved have all been severely harmed through the long term alienation process resulting in PAS., with one exception as far as I have seen (that is Olle in case four who was reunited with his mother after 1.5 years of separation starting when he was 20 days old). One child died. The eight remaining children involved are afraid to have contact with their mothers, or reject their mothers to whom they all have had a loving relationship at the onset of the forced separation/forced custody.

Children abducted by substitute parents seem to have developed problems similar to those described by other abducted children: loss of identity, loss of love, insecurity, instability.[26][26]

The children’s relations to their fathers have not been systematically investigated, but of what is known in these cases the biological fathers have been absent physically or mentally for their children. They have not fought against the alienators to keep contact with their children as have the mothers.

Research is lacking about the long term effects of mother deprivation and of forced alienation.[27][27] The research on foster children indicates that children who are separated from their parents are at risk to develop severe problems.[28][28] What can be foreseen is that these children, when they survive, will be lonely and feel isolated as adults, if their family bonds have been totally broken. The substitute parent has no obligations when these children have reached adulthood. The “family home”-parents at that point have new children to look after and to get paid for.

 

 

What can be said about intervention and non intervention from authorities in charge of making decisions in the best interest of the child?

From what is known about foster children from studies made[29][29] and from experiences in war time, it ought to be the very last solution to place children in a foster home where they have no family bonds.

Systematic follow up studies of children in foster homes are lacking. About 40 % of them in Sweden have an immigrant background. In 1992 15 % of the children had parents where both came from abroad.

There is an existing dilemma between the intentions in the law, a rapid reunion between parents and children, and the practise, children in compulsory public custody who are kept for a long time in “family homes.” Attempts have been made to take the intention in the law regulating compulsory public custody seriously, that is to work for a reunion of the child with her/his parents. This has been called ´inclusive fostering,´ but no evaluations have been made. On the other hand the Swedish state decided, already in 1983, that children, who have been rooted in their “family homes” can stay there under the legal guardianship of their “family home parents.” Not until it was decided that the foster home could have a continuous payment was there a break through for this transfer of legal guardianship from the biological parents to the foster parents for the placed children.[30][30]

In order to make the conditions, as it is expressed, more safe, for the children who have been in foster care for a long time it has been suggested in an official report from the Swedish government (SOU 2000:77) that not only the custody but also the legal guardianship should be transferred to the foster parents. ”More safe” according to the governmental report in the sense that the placed children should not risk that the children’s parents can legally take them home when the parents´ conditions are improved.

A new law, making it mandatory for social welfare agencies to consider transfer of custody, after two years for a child in a foster home, is under consideration.[31][31] Protests have been formulated that it means only disadvantages for the child.[32][32] “Family homes” can nowadays be organized in commercial private companies including consultants, experts and other special institutions, with former officials from the social agencies often included. This kind of organized networks[33][33] with an economic interest of children in forced custody who reject their biological parents can easily violate the individual and human rights of the children kept in their institutions.

What can be done to improve the conditions for children who have been alienated in compulsory public custody conflicts?

Parental alienation syndrome has sadly enough not been known as a form of psychological abuse. The knowledge about the harm that is done to the alienated children is not yet well known. Therefore it is of vital importance that PAS is written and talked about and that social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists learn about PAS in their professional education. If PAS will be recognised I do hope that in the future it will not be possible for parent substitutes (who compared to parents in custody conflicts can be neutral) to defame a parent and to integrate the children in their campaign of denigration, and thereby alienating the children from a formerly loved parent, and in so doing harming the children.

 

 

 

__________

 

Lena Hellblom Sjögren is a licensed psychologist since 1975, she took her PhD in 1985. Since 1990 she has practised as a forensic psychologist and has investigated several PAS-cases in Sweden and Norway, some of them presented in a lecture in Frankfurt, in October 2002, published in: “PAS. An Interdisciplinary Challenge for Professionals Involved in Divorce”, 2003. The first time she wrote about PAS was in her book from 1997 “Secrets and Memories. To Investigate Reliability in Sexual Criminal Cases.” (Title translated from Swedish.)

[1][1] PAS is more specific than Parental Alienation PA, as has been pointed out by Richard Gardner (2001). Parental Alienation Syndrome vs. Parental Alienation: Which Diagnosis Should Evaluators Use in Child Custody Disputes? The American Journal of Family Therapy 30(2) 93-115. A rebuttal to Carol Bruch (2001):Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation: Getting it wrong in Child Custody Cases? 35 Family Law Quarterly 527.

PAS in comparison with other similar problems or syndromes that children in custody conflicts can develop, see Deirdre Conway Rand (1997). The Spectrum of Parental Alienation Syndrome (Part I), the American Journal of Psychology, 1997.3.

[2][2] Compare identification with and defence for the one you become totally dependent on, seen in cases of kidnapping as for example Patricia Hearst, and in cases of hostages, the so called Stockholm syndrome.

[3][3] Two of them are shortly introduced in my article (2003). Making a Parent Dangerous – PAS in Sweden and Norway in The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). An Interdisciplinary Challenge for Professionals Involved in Divorce. International Conference, Frankfurt (Main), 18.-19. October 2002.

[4][4] K. Ebert, Die Rechtssituation bei Kindesentfremdung im Europäischen Vergleich, dargestellt vornehmlich an Fallbeispielen der Strassburger Menschenrechte-Judikatur in (2003) PAS. An Interdisciplinary Challenge for Professionals Involved in Divorce. He quotes the summary of three judges in the case Olsson v. Sweden (N o. 2): “to allow access, a right which is not even refused to criminal parents in other countries.”

[5][5] Eugen Verhellen. Children’s rights in Europe – An overview and a framework for understanding in Peter Koeppel (1996) Hrsgb. Kindschaftsrecht und Völkerrecht im Europäischen Kontext. Luchterhand.

[6][6] See the judgment 12 July 2001 from ECHR, Case of K. and T. v. Finland Child where child psychiatrist Dr J.P is quoted, p.15:

“From the children’s point of view, especially, but naturally also from that of the foster parents, the foster family is a family to which the principles concerning family life enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms can be applied in the same way as to biological families. This point of view is especially important when, through the force of circumstances, the biological family has not lived together.”

[7][7] Statistics from the National Board of Health and Welfare. The voluntary placements are often in reality not consensual, as the choice is to agree to a placement or having your child placed anyway. 2.200 more children were in public compulsory custody in November 2001, placed in special institutions and other forms of homes. In Denmark, 12.733 children and juveniles under the age of 18, almost 1 % of the population in the relevant age groups were placed outside their home, the vast majority of these placements being consensual, see summary from a project under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Affairs entitled Quality in t he Placement of Children and Juveniles. Report 03:04 by Tine Egelund & Anne-Dorthe Hestbaek.

[8][8] The exact references and date of journals and other documents are available from me if requested for scientific purposes, mail@testimonia.se.

[9][9] See summary in a paper (2002) by Wilfrid von Boch-Galhau. Separation and divorce with regard to the children concerned and the effects on adult life, particularly taking the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) into consideration.

[10][10] As has been pointed out by the sociologist Stefan Carlsson foster home has, ironically enough, in the Swedish social state changed name to “family home.” Stefan Carlsson (1995): Socialtjänstens kompetens och funktion, Socialstatsprojektet 1995:1, Stockholm City University Press.

[11][11] The monthly payment from the social agency (tax money) for the foster parents to have Emma is not information the social agency has wanted to give, but in 1995 Susan’s attorney at law found out that at that time it was about 1700 USD.

[12][12] Quotation from p. 3(5). Verdict/Dom 2003-04-16 Case No/Mål Nr 2763-02, Kammarrätten i Göteborg.

[13][13] Application no. 44259/98, Application no. 67814/01. Application no. 67931/01.

[14][14] The attorney at law representing the social officials (a woman without children of her own who in the last trial in April 2003 where I was present said that the mother should not think that the daughter was there for her)  has been the same over all the years. She is paid by the local social welfare board. Susan’s attorney at law has estimated that this case has cost the Swedish taxpayers over a million USD. She, or the experts she involves, is not paid as the mother has no assurance, no public money for legal help and doesn’t have any money of her own.

[15][15] Relevant observations are difficult to make when you place child and parents in a clinic, breaking their daily routines, their net works and influencing their relations. Preferable, as I see it, is to observe the child relating to his/her parent/-s in every day life situations at home.

[16][16] Utredning/Investigation jml 50 § SoL concerning Jessica Svensson (not her real name, birth number), 2001-06-07, NN kommun, Socialförvaltningen, Familjegruppen.

[17][17] Dom/Verdict from Svea hovrätt 2001.

[18][18] Bo Vinnerljung & Martin Ribe (2001). Mortality after care among young adult foster children in Sweden, Journal of Social Welfare 2001 (10):3;164-173.

[19][19] Five cases can only indicate some common traits of the severe alienation of mothers resulting in PAS in forced custody conflicts. Further research is needed. I have in several cases of alleged, but not substantiated, sexual abuse studied how children have been alienated from their fathers and developed PAS as a result of the denigration campaigns they themselves have taken part in.

[20][20] The competition is part of the special course in law “Practical European Process” at Stockholm University. Ten Nordic universities have the same course. Responsible is Jacob Sundberg. He was installed as an honourable member in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in October 2002 for his pioneering work within the domain of human rights. He is also the founder of the Institute for Public and International Law in Stockholm. A report is published yearly by the institute to document the competition.

[21][21] Siv Westerberg, medical doctor and attorney at law, has appealed ten times and won seven of her appeals, six of them concerning compulsory public custody, listed below:

Paulsen-Medalen & Svensson v. Sweden.
Gärdh & Kjell Persson v. Sweden.
Cecelia & Lisa Eriksson v. Sweden.
Margareta & Roger Andersson v. Sweden.

Gun & Stig Olsson v. Sweden.
Gun & Stig Olsson 2 v. Sweden.

[22][22] Case of K. and T. v. Finland, Judgment from the European Court of Human Rights Strasbourg 12 July 2001. The application (no.25702/94) was registered in November 1994.

A sad fact about these approved cases is that the children have not in spite of the acknowledgement in the European Court of Human Rights been reunited with their parents.

[23][23] The now retired Chief Justice Britta Sundberg-Weitman opposed to the arbitrariness in the new kinds of laws starting in the seventies, the so called frame laws, see her book (1981). Back to the state governed by law! /Rättsstaten Åter!.

[24][24] In the partly dissenting opinion of judge Bonello in the Case of K. and T. v. Finland, Judgment from the European Court of Human Rights Strasbourg 12 July 2001, he says:

“Had I, like the Finnish authorities, been faced with choosing whether to be cruel to the mother or to the child, I know which way I would have looked.”

[25][25] How devastating and extremely difficult it is to defeat a constructed picture is well documented in an exceptional verdict by the Honourable Mr Justice Eady, the 30th of July 2002 in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL. Case No:HQ9903605, HQ9903606, Christopher Lillie & Dawn Reed v. Newcastle City Council and other defendants.

[26][26] C. Finkelstein, (2003) PAS. An Interdisciplinary Challenge for Professionals Involved in Divorce.

[27][27] An overview of research has recently been made by a Norwegian psychologist, Tore Andreassen. (2003) What does the research tell us?/Hva sier forskningen? No Nordic studies on foster care passed the scientific standards.

In April 2003 a report was published by the Danish Institute for Social Research. It is about the 14.000 Danish children in public care costing 6.5 billion Danish crowns (2001), and about the lack of knowledge about the consequences for the children.

[28][28] In a Swedish study (1980) by Bohman&Sigvardsson, boys placed in stable foster homes were compared with boys who had been left in their risk homes although they were meant to be placed in foster homes, and with a group of boys who were adopted. All these three groups were compared with control groups and were followed up at the ages of 11, 15 and 18.It was found that the boys in foster homes were registered more frequently as criminals and for drinking too much alcohol. The boys left at home were doing just as well as the boys in the control groups.

[29][29]See for example: Mark V. Flinn & Barry G. England (1995). Childhood Stress and Family Environment. Current Anthropology 1995(36);6:854-866.

Bo Vinnerljung (1996). Foster children as adults/Fosterbarn som unga. Diss. (with summary in English).

[30][30] SOU 1979/80:44, p 79.

[31][31] Proposition 2002/03:53 called “Reinforced protection for children.” It is to be decided in the Swedish Parliament in June 2003. The title is referring to the child’s rights not be moved to his/her parents when the child has been what is called rooted in the family home. That the significance of de facto custody ought to be increased was proposed by Johanna Schiratzki (1997) in her dissertation Custody and Custody Disputes, Stockholm University. When the social agency is responsible for to limit or obstruct the parent’s possibilities of de facto custody without justification it must be questioned whether it is the right thing to do to transfer the legal guardianship to the foster home chosen by the social agency. Of course this proposition can be questioned for many other reasons, one being that biological bonds and loving bonds between children and parents are not replaceable. But the importance of these family and love bonds seem not be appreciated in the modern social state, where the child is seen as an individual released from the parents.

[32][32] Siv Westerberg 2001, see http://www.nkmr.org

[33][33] One such network organization that started already in 1993 in northern Sweden, has now an office in Stockholm. The name is Nåjden treatment consultant.

 Discussion

Among Swedish politicians and professionals there is a strong confidence in the compensatory powers of foster care, which is reflected both in legislation and practice. In the five cases investigated the mothers have provided normal, loving parenting. The fathers have been absent from the beginning, or have disappeared during the separation and struggle to have the children back. This fact has probably contributed to the severe alienation of the mothers by the father substitute, who have been in power to decide that the children cannot be taken care of by their mothers.

Is there something in common regarding the parent substitutes as alienators?

In these five cases the social agency has acted as alienator. In comparison with an alienating parent in a custody conflict, the social agency as alienator has an incomparably strong power position. The social agency has, in the cases described here, been embodied in a female social worker who has from the very start taken a personal interest in the case and acted out her antipathy towards the children’s mothers, not only for some time but over a period of many years. This personal and prestigious involvement has of course not been acknowledged, but it is very obvious in a close reading of the social documents. As a public authority figure, she has received support from the rest of the social agency, the experts involved by the social agency, the politicians formally responsible for the decisions to cut off the children from their mothers, the courts and the supervising authorities, including the Swedish Parliamentary Commissioner for the Judiciary and Civil Administration.

In June 2002, the Competition for the Sporrong Lönnroth Prize was about a case similar to the ones here presented. The Competition initiated by professor Jacob Sundberg, has been going on since 1984. The idea is that law students from the Nordic countries should have a process before judges from the European Court from the point of view of the European Convention for Human Rights.

It has formerly been possible to have complaints in forced custody cases accepted in the European Court for Human Rights. The fact that the state in Sweden or Finland has been criticized has not resulted in a reunion between the alienated children and their parents. Nor have the verdicts of guilty from the European Court for Human Rights made the state curtail the power delegated to the social agencies.

Similar to parents in a custody conflict where one of them gains advantages by accusing the other to have abused the child, sexually or physically, this can also be seen in the cases of  alienation of children resulting in PAS in forced custody conflicts.

More attention is paid to the experts referred to by the accusing/alienating part than to the experts referred to by the accused/alienated part. This is the case even if the alienated part in the conflict has statements from well-known medical experts, saying that the parent can not be blamed for the symptoms in their children, because they are genetic or caused by well- documented illness, congenital injuries or traumatization after separation from their parents.

The parents substitutes being the authorities responsible for the protection of children can argue that their actions of separating the child from a parent, is in the best interest of the child, a protection of the child. A mother believed to be dangerous for her child by an official from a social agency cannot argue that her child is dependent on her and needs her. That is against the system and  can be used against her (see above) by the authorities in the social welfare state, as they tend to see the child as an individual, that stands by itself, independent of his/her family and family roots.

Do the alienated mothers have something in common?

The mothers in the five cases have one thing in common: they have not been helpless and help seeking, but strong and stubborn. They have fought for their children’s lawful rights and have challenged the social agency by opposing the actions and restrictions. They have told the social officials that they were acting against the law or against the intention of the law (as is true sadly enough).

The officials from the social agency are not comparable with a parent in a parental conflict as the social agency, the substitute parent, has a power position by being a public authority. The other part, the mother, in the custody conflict has no power at all.

The mothers had, at the time for forced separation, provided normal, loving parenting, but the fathers had been absent or weak, a fact that has probably contributed in different ways to deepen the alienation of the mothers by the father substitute.

The mothers as individuals with their unique personalities, bad and good sides, have had less importance than the descriptions of them as unfit/dangerous mothers. Negative, but no positive characteristics and actions, have been attributed to them, more and more over time. The constructed pictures of the mothers as having an “inner chaos”, as unfit, as not protective enough, as a MSBP-case, or as over-protective,  have proven to be very vigorous and not possible for the mothers to conquer. The social agency has the preferential right of interpretation. When questioned or criticised by the mothers knowledgeable about their own and their children’s rights the social agency has acted to defend itself and the officials’ prestige by denigrating the mothers and use the children in their denigration campaign, something the mothers have not been able to fight successfully against.

How severely have the children been harmed?

 The ten children involved have all been severely harmed through the long-term alienation process resulting in PAS, with one exception as far as I have seen (that is the baby brother in case four who was reunited with his mother after 1.5 years of separation starting when he was 20 days old). One child died. The eight remaining children involved are afraid to have contact with their mothers, or reject their mothers, with whom they have all had a loving relationship at the onset of the forced separation/forced custody.

Children abducted by substitute parents seem to have developed problems similar to the ones described by other abducted children: loss of identity, loss of love, insecurity, instability. The children’s relations to their fathers have not been systematically investigated, but from what is known in these cases the biological fathers have been absent physically or mentally for their children. They have not fought against the alienators to keep contact with their children as have the mothers.

Research is lacking about the long-term effects of mother deprivation and of forced alienation. The research on foster children indicates that children who are separated from their parents are at risk of developing severe problems. What can be foreseen is that many of these children, when they survive and do not become criminals, drug addicts, or psychiatric patients, will be lonely and feel isolated as adults, if their family bonds have been totally broken. The substitute parent has no obligations when these children have reached majority. The “family home”-parents at that point have new children to look after and get paid for.

What can be said about intervention and non intervention by authorities in charge of making decisions in the best interest of the child?

From what is known about foster children from studies made and from experiences in war time, it ought to be the very last solution to place children in a foster home where they have no family bonds.

Systematic follow-up studies of children in foster homes are lacking. About 40 % of them in Sweden have an immigrant background.

There is an existing dilemma between the intentions in the law, a rapid reunion between parents and children, and the practice, children in compulsory public custody who are kept for a long time in “family homes.” Attempts have been made to take the intention of the law regulating compulsory public custody seriously, that is to work for a reunion of the child with her/his parents. This has been called ‘inclusive fostering,’ but no evaluations have been made. On the other hand the Swedish state decided, already in 1983, that children, who have been rooted in their “family homes” can stay there under the legal guardianship of their “family home parents.” Not until it was decided that the foster home could have a continous payment was there a break through for this transfer of legal guardianship from the biological parents to the foster parents for the placed children.

In order to make the conditions, as it is expressed, more safe, for the children who have been in foster care for a long time it has been suggested in an official report from the Swedish government (SOU 2000:77) that not only the custody but also the legal guardianship regularly should be transferred to the foster parents. More safe according to the governmental report in the sense that the placed children should not risk that the children’s parents can legally request to have their children back home when the parents’ conditions have been improved.

A new Swedish law, making it mandatory for social welfare agencies to consider transfer of custody, after three years for a child in a foster home has been considered and decided in June 2003. Protests have been formulated about the disadvantages for the child. Foster homes, officially called “Family homes”, can nowadays be organized in commercial private companies including consultants, experts and other special institutions, with former officials from the social agencies often included. This kind of organized networks] with an economic interest to have children in forced custody and influence them to reject their biological parents violate the individual and human rights of the children kept in their institutions and “homes.”

What can be done to improve the conditions for children who have been alienated in compulsory public custody conflicts?

 Parental alienation syndrome has sadly enough not been recognized as a form of psychological abuse. The harm that is done to the alienated children is not yet well known. Therefore it is of vital importance that PAS is written and talked about and that social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists learn about PAS in their professional education. If PAS will be recognized I do hope that in the future it will not be possible for social agency officials as parent substitutes (who compared to parents in custody conflicts can be neutral) to defame a parent and to integrate the children in their campaign of denigration, thereby alienating the children from a formerly loved parent, and possibly doing them irreparable harm.

REFERENCES

 1 PAS is more specific than Parental Alienation PA, as has been pointed out by  Richard Gardner (2001). Parental Alienation Syndrome vs.Parental Alienation: Which Diagnosis Should Evaluators Use in Child Custody Disputes?. 30(2) The American Journal of Family Therapy 93-115. This can be seen as a rebuttal to Carol Bruch (2001): Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation: Getting it wrong in Child Custody Cases? 35 Family Law Quarterly 527.

PAS in comparison with other similar problems or syndromes that children in custody conflicts can develop see Deirdre Conway Rand (1997). The Spectrum of Parental Alienation Syndrome (Part I), 1997 The American Journal of Psychology 3.

 2 Compare identification with and defense for the one you become totally dependent on, seen in cases of kidnapping as for example Patricia Hearst, and in cases of hostages, the so called Stockholm syndrome.

 3 Two of them are shortly introduced  in my article (2003). Making a Parent Dangerous – PAS in Sweden and Norway in The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). An Interdisciplinary Challenge for Professionals Involved in Divorce. International Conference, Frankfurt (Main), 18.-19. October 2002.

4 K. Ebert, Die Rechtssituation bei Kindesentfremdung im Europäischen Vergleich, dargestellt vornehmlich an Fallbeispielen der Strassburger Menschenrechte-Judikatur in (2003) PAS. An Interdisciplinary Challenge for Professionals Involved in Divorce. He quotes the summary of three judges in the case Olsson v. Sweden (N o. 2): “to allow access, a right which is not even refused to criminal parents in other countries.”

5 Eugen Verhellen. Children’s rights in Europe – An overview and a framework for understanding in Peter Koeppel (1996) Hrsgb. Kindschaftsrecht und Völkerrecht im Europäischen Kontext. Luchterhand.

6 See the judgment 12 July 2001 from ECHR, Case of K.and T. v. Finland Child where child  psychiatrist Dr J.P is quoted, p.15:

“From the children’s point of view, especially, but naturally also from that of the foster parents, the foster family is a family to which the principles concerning family life enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms can be applied in the same way as to biological families. This point of view is especially important when, through the force of circumstances, the biological family has not lived together.”

7 Statistics from the The National Board of Health and Welfare. The voluntary placements are often in reality not consensual, as the choice is to agree to a placement or having your child placed anyway. 2.200 more children were in public compulsory custody in November 2001, placed in special institutions and other forms of homes.  In Denmark, 12.733 children and juveniles under the age of 18, almost 1 % of the population in the relevant age groups were placed outside their home, the vast majority of these placements being consensual, see summary from a project under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Affairs entitled Quality in t he Placement of Children and Juveniles. Report 03:04 by Tine Egelund & Anne-Dorthe Hestbaek.

8 The exact references and date of journals and other documents are available from me if requested for scientific purposes, mail@testimonia.se.

9 See summary in a paper (2002) by Wilfrid von Boch-Galhau. Separation and divorce with regard to the children concerned and the effects on adult life, particularly taking the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) into consideration.

 10 As has been pointed out by the sociologist Stefan Carlsson, a  foster home has, ironically enough, in the Swedish social state changed name to “family home.” Stefan Carlsson (1995): Socialtjänstens kompetens och funktion/The competence and function of the social services, Socialstatsprojektet 1995:1, Stockholm City University Press.

11 The monthly payment from the social agency (tax money) for the foster parents to have Emma is not information the social agency has wanted to give, but in 1995 Susan’s attorney at law found out that at that time it was about 1700 USD.

12 Quotation from p.3(5). Verdict/Dom 2003-04-16 Case No/Mål Nr 2763-02, Kammarrätten i Göteborg.

13 Application no. 44259/98, Application no. 67814/01.  Application no. 67931/01.

14 The attorney at law representing the social officials (a woman without children of her own who in the last trial in April 2003 where I was present said that the mother should not think that the daughter was there for her)   has been the same over all the years. She is payed by the local social welfare board. Susan’s attorney at law has estimated that this case has cost the Swedish taxpayers over a million USD. She, or the experts she involves, is not payed as the mother has no assurance, no public money for legal help and doesn’t have any money of her own.

 15 Relevant observations are difficult to make when you place child and parents in a clinic, breaking their daily routines, their net works and influencing their relations. Preferable, as I see it, is to observe the child relating to his/her parents/-s in every day life situations at home.

16 Utredning/Investigation jml 50 § SoL  concerning Jessica Svensson (not her real name, birth number), 2001-06-07, NN kommun, Socialförvaltningen, Familjegruppen.

17 Dom/Verdict No. T 4989-00, Svea hovrätt  2001

18 Bo Vinnerljung & Martin Ribe (2001) Mortality after care among young adult foster children in Sweden, 10(3) Journal of Social Welfare 164-173.

19 Five cases can only indicate some common traits of the severe alienation of mothers resulting in PAS in forced custody conflicts. Further research is needed. I have in several cases of  alleged, but not substantiated,  sexual abuse studied how children have been alienated from their fathers and have developed PAS as a result of the denigration campaigns they themselves have taken part in after having been separated from their fathers.

20 The competition is part of the special course in law “Practical European Process” at Stockholm University. Ten Nordic universities have the same course. Responsible is Jacob Sundberg.  He was installed as an honourable member in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in October 2002 for his pioneering work within the domain of human rights. He is also the founder of the Institute for Public and International Law in Stockholm. A report is published yearly by the institute to document the competition.

21 Siv Westerberg, medical doctor and attorney at law, has appealed ten times and won seven of her appeals, six of them concerning compulsory public custody, listed below:

Paulsen-Medalen & Svensson v. Sweden.
Gärdh & Kjell Persson v. Sweden.
Cecelia & Lisa Eriksson v. Sweden.
Margareta & Roger Andersson v. Sweden

Gun & Stig Olsson v. Sweden.

Gun & Stig Olsson 2 v. Swden.

22 Case of K. and T. v. Finland, Judgment from the European Court of Human Rights Strasbourg 12 July 2001. The application (no.25702/94) was registered in November 1994.

A sad fact about these approved cases is that the children have not in spite of the acknowledgement in the European Court of Human Rights been reunited with their parents.

23 The now retired judge Britta Sundberg-Weitman opposed to the arbitrariness in the new kinds of laws starting in the seventies, the so called frame laws, see her book (1981). Back to the state governed by law! /Rättsstaten tillbaka!.

24 In the partly dissenting opinion of judge Bonello in the Case of K. and T. v. Finland, Judgment from the European Court of Human Rights Strasbourg 12 July 2001, he says:

“Had I, like the Finnish authorities been faced with choosing whether to be cruel to the mother or to the child, I know which way I would have looked.”

25 How devastating  and extremely difficult it is to defeat a constructed picture is well documented in an exceptional verdict by the Honourable Mr Justice Eady, the 30th of July 2002 in the High Court of Justice, Queen´s Bench Division, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL. Case No:HQ9903605, HQ9903606, Christopher Lillie & Dawn Reed v..Newcastle City Council and other defendants.

26 C. Finkelstein, (2003) PAS. An Interdisciplinary Challenge for Professionals Involved in Divorce.

 27 An overview of research has recently been made by a Norwegian psychologist, Tore Andreassen. (2003) Treatment of adolescents in institutions. What does the research tell us?/Behandling av ungdom i institusjoner, Hva sier forskningen? No Nordic studies on the effects of placing children outside their home passed the scientific standards, so in fact there is no standardized knowledge about the treatment and what happens afterwards. One Swedish descriptive study (Vinnerljung et al. 2001) concludes that 30-37 % of the placements were broken within 5 years, and mot of the placements broke down the first year.

In April 2003 a report was published by the Danish Institute for Social Research. It is about the 14.000 Danish children in public care costing 6.5 billion Danish crowns (2001) and about the lack of knowledge about the consequences for the children taken into public care.

28 In an old Swedish study (1980) by Bohman&Sigvardsson, boys placed in stable foster homes were compared with boys who had been left in their risk homes although they were meant to be placed in foster homes, and with a group of  boys who were adopted. All these three groups were compared with control groups and were followed up at the ages of 11, 15 and 18.It was found that the boys in foster homes were registered more frequently as criminals and for drinking too much alcohol. The boys left at home were doing just as well as the boys in the control groups.

29 See for example: Mark V.Flinn & Barry G.England (1995). Childhood Stress and Family Environment, 36(6) Current Anthropology 854-866.

Bo Vinnerljung (1996). Foster children as adults/Fosterbarn som unga. Diss. (with summary in English).

30 SOU 1979/80:44, p 79.

31 Proposition 2002/03:53 called “Reinforced protection for children.” It was decided in the Swedish Parliament in June 2003. The title is referring to the child’s rights not be moved to his/her parents when the child has been what is called rooted in the family home. That the significance of de facto custody ought to be increased was proposed by Johanna Schiratzki (1997) in her dissertation Custody and Custody Disputes, Stockholm University. When the social agency is responsible to limit or obstruct the parent’s possibilities of de facto custody without justification it must be questioned whether it is the right thing to do to transfer the legal guardianship to the foster home chosen by the social agency. Of course this new law can be questioned for many other reasons, one being that biological bonds and loving bonds between children and parents are not replaceable. But the importance of these family and love bonds seem not be appreciated in the modern social state, where the child is seen as an individual released from the parents.

32 Siv Westerberg 2001, see http://www.nkmr.org

33 One such network organization that started already in 1993 in northern Sweden, has now an office in Stockholm. The name is Nåjden treatmentconsultant, see  http://www.najden.se.

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