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Toronto Star


(Front page - main headline)

Justice Minister Vic Toews thinks so. He wants the age at which courts intervene in a delinquent child's life lowered from 12

Minister: Goal is treatment, not jail

The Toronto Star, (Canada's largest daily newspaper in Canada's most populous city), TRACEY TYLER, LEGAL AFFAIRS REPORTER, Aug. 15, 2006.

ST. JOHN'S - Justice Minister Vic Toews says the Youth Criminal Justice Act may need to be changed so children as young as 10 and 11 who "run afoul of the law" can be brought to court.

Speaking to members of the Canadian Bar Association at their annual meeting here yesterday, Toews said he is considering amending the legislation to give judges authority over alleged young offenders at a much earlier stage than allowed currently. The act now applies to youths between 12 and 18.

Toews said he is considering that possibility not because he thinks someone that young should be jailed, but because he thinks youth courts should have the power to intervene in the lives of younger children who have fallen "under the influence of criminal elements."

A judge could be given the power to "assist" a child by ordering treatment or some other "disposition," Toews said, adding that his main interest is treatment, not imprisonment.

Courts should be able to step in before a child has established a pattern of behaviour that could have harmful, long-term consequences, he said.

"I'm sometimes provided with anecdotes about people coming to the court by age 12 and they've had a horrendous involvement with the police and other social agencies, but the courts have been unable to intervene."

"There needs to be more flexibility in the act," he told reporters later. "We need to find ways of ensuring children are deterred from crime. And one of the frustrations that has been expressed to me is that sometimes children, by the time they're 12 because the courts have been unable to access them under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, have in fact established a pattern of conduct that will be harmful over the long term.

"I don't think, when it comes to young people of that age, that we can afford to wait."

"So we need to have a special way for the courts, I think, to intervene, in a positive fashion, in the lives of these children in some type of a treatment program and I think that needs to be discussed."

A child wouldn't necessarily have to be charged criminally in order to be brought to court, Toews added.

Legislation dealing with juvenile delinquents, which predates the Youth Criminal Justice Act of 2003, contained provisions that allowed members of the community to come before the courts, in the interests of the child, to seek assistance for problem behaviour, he said.

The number of youths charged by police has been gradually declining of late because the act allows police greater discretion when dealing with young people. In 2003/04, there were about 33,800 admissions to supervised youth correctional services with about 52 per cent in custody and 48 per cent on probation. About nine out of 10 youths in custody serve six months or less.

Lowering the age could fill a gap in the current system, said Nicholas Bala, a law professor at Queen's University.

Bala said children as young as 10 do commit violent crimes but he added: "There should be restrictions written into the legislation to make it clear that this should be reserved for the most serious repeat offenders."

Debra Pepler, a York University professor of clinical developmental psychology and a Hospital for Sick Children psychologist, said cogitative development should be considered before this change is made because children under 12 can't think into the future.

"They aren't able to predict what the consequences of their behaviour will be," said Pepler.

Louise Botham, president of Ontario's Criminal Lawyers' Association, said Toews' suggestion begs the question of whether Ottawa is willing to pay for the treatment programs a child would be ordered to attend.

If such treatment programs are up and running, one might legitimately ask why it's necessary to route a child through the court system, Botham said.

"What kind of a magic is a judge going to have?" she said.

Toews seems to be suggesting the justice system is a "panacea" for society's problems, she said.

But while child welfare programs are supposed to take care of children under 12 who show signs of heading toward a life of crime, Toews said that's not what's happening, as he understands it. Instead of dealing with the problem, social agencies are waiting until the child turns 12 and the criminal justice system assumes responsibility, he said.

In the United States, only 16 states have a minimum age for juvenile court, ranging from 10 in several states to 6 in North Carolina. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the minimum is 10. It is 8 in Scotland.

But in May the Philippines raised the age of criminal responsibility from 9 to 15.

with files from Anna Piekarski

 Voices: Lowering age of responsibility

Aug. 15, 2006

Should the law be changed so children as young as 10 can be brought before a judge?

I think it would be better if our justice minister worked on getting appropriate (read: Read More .. severe) sentences for those who abuse and neglect children, rather than spending precious government resources on attempting to convict those children who have likely been victims of such abuse and neglect.
Leah Sandals, Toronto

It's about time! Children today are becoming well aware of their 'rights' under the current laws. They can get away with murder, literally, and only receive a slap on the wrist.
Dave Webster, Toronto

Here's an equally ridiculous idea that doesn't stigmatize the child as a criminal while they're still in grade 5 - Make the parents responsible for the conduct of the child.
Matt Keefer, Peterborough

I would say that it should depend on the nature of the charge. For property crimes, I'd say 'No'. But for personal injury type crimes, with reservations, I guess I'd say 'Yes'.
Bryn Swan, Kingston

Many of these 'kids' are physically built like 25 year olds with bad street attitudes ... Being mugged by a 12 year old with a knife is the same as being mugged by a 25 year old.
Narotham Puri, Mississauga

Yes, I believe that they should be brought before the courts and held responsible for their actions ... Perhaps a bit of time spent away from home in a tightly run environment might make them shape up their acts.
Bruce Brown, Peterborough

The problem like so many other good ideas is the agencies and manpower needed to support this will end up being underfunded. The kids that this is supposed to help will end up falling through the cracks once again.
 The courts are not the babysitter for troubled youth. Families need support financially, schools need the tools to assist those kids who are struggling, and those neighbourhoods that have fallen into neglect ... need to be cleaned up.
Susan Cain, Brampton

I do believe in the possibility of rehabilitation for young children, but if they can't predict the future consequences of their actions, then they should be made to experience the consequences. After all, experience is a wonderful teacher.
Maxine Noronha, Pickering

It is wrong, just plain dead wrong, to bring children to court. Children don't have the cognitive maturity to understand all the concepts involved with the law, breaking the law and going to court. It would just criminalize them and mark them as deficient for the rest of their lives.
Nancy Eaton, Peterborough

Yes, they should. If parents won't discipline their kids, then the courts can. Then the parents will have to do something about it.
Chris Preston, Victoria

Mr. Toews should consider using the resources at his disposal to improve our judicial system rather than criminalize a handful of wayward youths from marginalized communities?
Robin Kelly, Toronto

Brainwashing Children - Divorce - Family Law

W5 TV Show on Parental Alienation

TV Show about Parental Alienation

W5 investigates: Children on the frontlines of divorce

November 7, 2009

The world of divorce is scary for any child. But when a divorce becomes especially toxic, children can become the target of an unrelenting crusade by one parent to destroy the child's relationship with the other. Experts call it parental alienation.

A Mother's Heartbreaking Story of Parental Alienation

A Kidnapped Mind

A Kidnapped Mind

What does Parental Alienation Syndrome mean? In my case, it meant losing a child. When Dash was 4 1/2 years old his father and I broke up. I dealt with the death of our marriage and moved on but Peter stayed angry, eventually turning it toward his own house, teaching our son, day by day, bit by bit, to reject me. Parental Alienation Syndrome typically means one parent's pathological hatred, the other's passivity and a child used as a weapon of war. When Dash's wonderful raw materials were taken and shaken and melted down, he was recast as a foot soldier in a war against me.

Parental Alienation

Divorced Parents Move, and Custody Gets Trickier

The New York Times, New York city, U.S.A. August 8, 2004

Not too long ago, Jacqueline Scott Sheid was a pretty typical Upper East Side mother. Divorced and with a young daughter, she had quickly remarried, borne a son, and interrupted her career to stay home with the children while her husband, Xavier Sheid, worked on Wall Street.

Early last year, Mr. Sheid lost his job and saw his only career opportunity in California. But Ms. Sheid's ex-husband, who shares joint legal custody of their daughter, refused to allow the girl to move away. So Ms. Sheid has spent much of the last year using JetBlue to shuttle between her son and husband on the West Coast and her daughter (and ex) on the East.

The New York court system, which she hoped would help her family to resolve the problem, has cost her tens of thousands of dollars in fees for court-appointed experts, she said, and has helped to prolong the process by objecting to her choice of lawyers.

TV Show Parental Alienation - The View - Alec Baldwin

The View - Parental Alienation - Alec Baldwin and Jill Egizii - Both Genders Can be Victims

Alec Baldwin talks about his experience with parental alienation. Alec ( 3rd from right) was accompanied by Jill Egizii ( 2nd from right) , president of the Parental Alienation Awareness Organisation (PAAO) and Mike McCormick, president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC).

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Landmark Ruling Grants Father Custody of Children

PA News (U.K.), July 3, 2004

A key court decision to grant a father custody of his daughters after the mother flouted contact orders for four years was today welcomed by campaigners.

Fathers 4 Justice said that the High Court ruling was a vital victory and called for more judges to take a similar stance when faced with resistant parents.

The comments come after Mrs Justice Bracewell transferred the residence of two young girls to their father because the mother persistently refused him contact, despite court orders.  Read More ..


Psychiatric disorder may have led boy to fatally shoot father

Rick James Lohstroh, a doctor at UTMB, was fatally shot this summer, apparently by his 10-year-old son.

ABC13 Eyewitness News, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
Dec. 29, 2004

The 10-year-old Katy boy accused of murdering his father this summer is now the face of an unofficial psychiatric disorder that may have lead to his father's death.

Some psychiatrists call it Parental Alienation Syndrome and they say that's why the son killed Doctor Rick Lohstroh last summer. The syndrome is basically caused by a bitter parent who poisons a child against the other parent, usually in cases of divorce.

Canadian Bar Association


Parental Alienation Syndrome: A 'Hidden' Facet of Custody Disputes

Read More ..

Parental Alienation
Scholarly Paper

Parental Alienation - Myths, Realities & Uncertainties:
A Canadian Study,

May 12, 2009

By Nicholas Bala, Suzanne Hunt & Carrie McCarney
Faculty of Law
Queens University
Kingston, ON Canada

Alienation cases have been receiving a great deal of public and professional attention in the past few months in Canada. As with so many issues in family law, there are two competing, gendered narratives offered to explain these cases.  Men's rights activists claim that mothers alienate children from their fathers as a way of seeking revenge for separation, and argue that judges are gender-biased against fathers in these cases. Feminists tend to dismiss alienation as a fabrication of abusive fathers who are trying to force contact with children who are frightened of them and to control the lives of their abused former partners. While there is some validity to both of these narratives, each also has significant mythical elements. The reality of these cases is often highly complex, with both fathers and mothers bearing significant responsibility for the situation.

Two of the many findings are:

Mothers are twice as likely as fathers to alienate children from the other parent, but this reflects the fact that mothers are more likely to have custody or primary care of their children; in only 2 out of 89 cases was a parent with only access able to alienate a child from the other parent.

Fathers made more than three times as many unsubstantiated claims of parental alienation as mothers, but this too reflects the fact that claims of alienation (substantiated and unsubstantiated) are usually made by access parents, who are usually fathers.

National Post

Custody judges rule on vengeance

Courts criticized for recognizing 'parental alienation'

National Post
March 27, 2009

Toronto -- The scope of the courts' reach into family affairs has long been contentious, but a recent trend in Canada's legal system has brought a new controversy that has some onlookers praising judges and others condemning them for accepting what they call "voodoo science."

More than ever before, Canada's judges are recognizing that some children of divorced and warring parents are not simply living an unfortunate predicament, but rather are victims of child abuse and suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome.   Read More ..


Parenting: Baldwin Speaks Up

May 7, 2007

Many celebrities would shrink from view after a PR nightmare like Alec Baldwin's leaked voice mail in which he calls his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, a "rude, thoughtless little pig." But Baldwin wants to use the media scrutiny to give exposure to parental alienation, the controversial "syndrome" caused by one parent's systematically damaging a child's relationship with the other parent.

Parental Alienation

Canadian Press

B.C. judge bars mother from seeing daughter

Court orders one-year ban after 'unfounded' abuse allegations made about teenager's father

March 10, 2009

VANCOUVER - In a case of extreme parental alienation, a mother has been banned by a B.C. Supreme Court judge from seeing her teenage daughter for more than a year.

Because of the urgency of the matter, Justice Donna Martinson issued the terse, two-page ruling outlining 15 conditions the parents must follow, including that the mother, known only as Ms. A, not see her daughter until at least March 31, 2010.

The decision came after the mother alleged extreme emotional abuse by the father, which she claimed was putting the teenager's safety at risk.

"I am satisfied that Ms. A's allegations are unfounded," Martinson wrote.

"I am further satisfied that she has continued to undermine the relationship between M and her father and has acted in ways that are detrimental to M's psychological healing."

Names have been stripped from the court ruling to protect the girl's identity.

The judge has ordered that both the mother and maternal grandmother have no contact with the girl, which would be enforced by police if necessary.

The Globe and Mail


The family Pandora's Box

Some victims of parental alienation syndrome don't realize until adulthood that one parent turned them against the other

The Globe and Mail
March 24, 2009

After Joe Rabiega's parents divorced, when he was an adolescent, his father repeatedly told him his mother had abandoned him. The boy had to return any gifts that came from his mother's side of the family and, twice daily, he had to pledge his allegiance to his father.

"I was never allowed to have anything to do with her," he says from his home in Raleigh, N.C. "The consequences were dire if I did. He said I would have nobody."

Even though Mr. Rabiega, now 33, had witnessed ugly behaviour by his father toward his mother and knew his dad to be an erratic alcoholic, it wasn't until he sought counselling for personal problems in his early 20s that his past snapped into focus: He had been the victim of parental alienation syndrome - his father had systematically turned him against his mother.

The phenomenon, coined by psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner in 1985, has gained traction recently due to a number of recent high-profile divorce cases in Canada - not to mention the very public case of movie star Alec Baldwin, who accused his former wife, Kim Basinger, of parental alienation.    Read More ..


November, 1999


The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the systematic denigration by one parent by the other with the intent of alienating the child against the other parent. The purpose of alienation is usually to gain or retain custody without the involvement of the non-custodial parent (NCP) The alienation usually extends to the NCP's family and friends as well. Though this document is written with the father in mind, it must be clear that there are many cases of PAS where the NCP is the mother, and PAS from the non-custodial mothers' viewpoint will be discussed later.

Dr. Richard Gardner in his book 'The Parental Alienation Syndrome' states (p. 74) "Many of these children proudly state that their decision to reject their fathers is their own.";

They deny any contribution from their mothers. And the mothers often support this vehemently. In fact, the mothers will often state that they want the child to visit with the father and recognise the importance of such involvement, yet such a mothers every act indicates otherwise.

Such children appreciate that, by stating the decision is their own, they assuage mother's guilt and protect her from criticism. Such professions of independent thinking are supported by the mother who will often praise these children for being the kind of people who have minds of their own and are forthright and brave enough to express overtly their opinions.

Frequently, such mothers will exhort their children to tell them the truth regarding whether or not they really want to see their fathers. The child will usually appreciate that "the truth" is the profession that they hate the father and do not want to see him ever again. They thereby provide that answer - couched as "the truth" - which will protect them from their mother's anger if they were to state what they really wanted to do, which is to see their fathers.

It is important for the reader to appreciate that after a period of programming the child may not know what is the truth any Read More ..d come to actually believe that the father deserves the vilification being directed against him. The end point of the brainwashing process has then been achieved.    Read More ..


Psychiatric disorder may have led boy to fatally shoot father

Rick James Lohstroh, a doctor at UTMB, was fatally shot this summer, apparently by his 10-year-old son.

ABC13 Eyewitness News, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
Dec. 29, 2004

The 10-year-old Katy boy accused of murdering his father this summer is now the face of an unofficial psychiatric disorder that may have lead to his father's death.

Some psychiatrists call it Parental Alienation Syndrome and they say that's why the son killed Doctor Rick Lohstroh last summer. The syndrome is basically caused by a bitter parent who poisons a child against the other parent, usually in cases of divorce.

The Globe and Mail

Parental alienation cases draining court resources

Study says such cases should be moved out of court system, handled by individual judges

The Globe and Mail
May 13, 2009

An escalation in parental alienation allegations is draining valuable courtroom resources, a major study of 145 alienation cases between 1989-2008 concludes.

"Access problems and alienation cases - especially those which are more severe - take up a disproportionate amount of judicial time and energy," said the study, conducted by Queen's University law professor Nicholas Bala, a respected family law expert.

"One can ask whether the courts should even be trying to deal with these very challenging cases." Read More ..

Journal of Psychosocial Nursing 1994

Parental Alienation Syndrome

A Developmental Analysis of a Vulnerable Population

The American family is changing, and divorce is no small part of the pattern. In the United States, there are nearly a million and a half divorces and annulments annually. It is estimated that 40% to 50% of adults will eventually divorce . Including the indirect effects on family and friends, the impact of divorce has ripple effects not only for those directly involved, but also for society and clinical nursing.

Many children involved in divorce and custody litigation undergo thought reform or mild brainwashing by their parents. This disturbing fact is a product of the nature of divorce and the disintegration of the spousal relationship in our culture. Inevitably, children receive subtly transmitted messages that both parents have serious criticisms of each other. Read More .. ..