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November 25-December 2, 2009

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Letters to the Editor

Children An Afterthought

AS ONE who served in the '70s as the "family law officer" while still a young probation officer, I had the privilege to work with amazing judges here in Santa Cruz. They taught me that the truth was all they wanted from me as an investigator.

Back then, it was clearly the policy that decisions were made in the "best interests of the children" involved in those difficult matters. The so-called family bar was more thoughtful and less disrespectful of families as well. Children seem to be an afterthought these days.

The amazing article written by Alastair Bland ("Disorder in the Courts," Currents, Nov. 18) hits the nail(s) right on the head as far as the system currently operates. I was thrilled to see it, and thank you for the good work.

I am drawn into these matters as a private practice therapist whose former roles in the court system I so respected compel me to object mightily about what comes before me in the form of the custody "reports," so many of which are mere hatchet jobs on one of the parents. Children have gotten lost in many of these cases, and the dictum of "Do No Harm" seems to be out the window for many "clinicians" who are charging an arm and a leg for their disrespectful, one-sided and destructive "assessments."

No matter what is going on with these families (and they can be quite difficult) children need to love both of their parents. A system that encourages unending court appearances and accusations creates lasting wounds for all involved, especially the children.

Diane Cohan,
Santa Cruz

Parental Alienation All Too Real

I HAPPEN to be the victim on the other side of gender in a Parental Alienation Syndrome matter ("Disorder in the Courts"). My daughter's mother got her back after I successfully raised her for five and one-half years from the time she was only 18 months old. She is now 23 years of age and has not talked with me for the past 17 years. She is severely parentally alienated. Mistakes are not gender specific. Perpetrators are not always of the male species. In my case the courts failed my daughter and hence she dropped out of high school and made a baby rather than completing college which she would have done had she remained with me. Her mother got the free help from Justice for Children to take her back from me but while she got that assistance she was out committing three felonies. Groups like the Leadership Council are not unlike Justice for Children. They are sexist and do not understand the problem.

Robert Gartner,
Houston, Texas

Better Believe It

PARENTAL alienation (PA) is a set of behaviors that are harmful to children. Those who deny that children become caught in the battle between high conflict parents might as well deny that parents are capable of any form of abuse. The issue is no longer whether these behaviors are harmful but which remedy to proscribe to the effected child.

For hundreds of biographies by children and adult child victims of PA, one can visit

I wonder what those naysayers would have the courts do in other cases of child abuse. Claims or actual evidence of false allegations or misuse of child abuse claims does not argue against the need to protect children from real cases of abusive PA.

Robert Samery
Vice President, Parental Alienation Awareness Organization

Von Busack's Mockery

THE REASON people are being so deeply affected by the movie Precious is the same reason people were affected by the book Push by Sapphire.

Three out of five Americans over the age of 30 in this country have been mentally, physically and/or sexually abused as a child by someone so close to them (male and female abusers) that this world doesn't give them the right to say anything about it, nor do anything about it after the fact outside of medicating themselves with whatever they can get their hands on to keep their souls numbed out.

For the past 10 years, every person who told me about the book that this movie came from was working-, middle- and upper-class, male and female members of this so-called working society. And each and every one of them so identified with the horrors Precious dealt with behind closed doors that where the story was set and the color of whom it happened to flew by the wayside. They saw Precious in themselves.

Contrary to Richard von Busack's mockery ("Pushing Too Hard," Film, Nov. 18), the movie is not going to be nominated for an Oscar in the spirit of "there but for the grace of God go I." That movie is going to do so because so many people across so many stratas of society live a life infused in pain, through no fault of their own. It will get the nod because even so many of your readers--whether they admit it aloud or not--know exactly from where that main character speaks, regardless of the color of their skin or the amount of money in their pocket. And it's time for the lowest common denominator of abuse to finally be dealt with and eradicated.

If I can figure out how to be touched by a movie with nobody that looks like me in it because it's singing my song, so can everybody else. And this time ... they are already doing it.

A. Brynner,
Seattle, Wash.

UC: Villain or Victim?

I DIDN'T attend a UC school, but read with interest Dr. Don Rothman's piece on the rising cost of tuition ("Higher Expectations from Higher Ed," Bullhorn, Nov. 11). What was not addressed was why the tuition fees are so high. Are UC faculty and staff paid disproportionately higher than in other schools, are they banking the money and building a ridiculously high endowment, or is the cost of running a state school just so high that that's what it costs to get an education in California? Without that information, it's hard to know if the UC system is the villain or victim. 

Craig Smith,

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