Dear Danish Association of Psychologists (AP),

Thank you for your reply to us on this page [on the Facebook page of the Danish Association of Psychologists “Dansk Psykolog Forening”]: To our post of July 26th, in the thread below Tenna Dajani of August 6th as well as in this thread. Your reply raises further questions, which we hope you will greet with your in depth reply.

1. How do you define the content of the expression “the best interest of the child”?

In matters of family law, the question is NOT whether to prioritize the best interest of the child. The question is WHAT is the best interest of the child? In other words, how do you define the content of that expression? And how do you prioritize between the child’s need for visitation with the other parent on the one hand and the child’s need for protection against physical violence, mental abuse and sexual violations on the other hand? We would appreciate hearing the opinion of the AP.

Further: It is evident from the report “Taking the child hostage – Stalking of mothers” (not translated to English, yet) (by Schandorph & Elklit, 2013) that stalking and psychological violence against the mother damages the children. We interpret this to mean that the welfare of the primary bonding person CANNOT be separated from the welfare of the child. If one submits the mother to psychological violence, then one also indirectly submits ones own children to the very same violence.

How is this uncovered in a child expert examination? And how does the AP prioritize psychological violence against the mother in relation to understanding the term “the best interest of the child”?

2. The position of AP as independent of the political agenda

Under the post by Tenna Dajani (August 6th) we specifically ask how the AP positions itself in relation to the understanding and significance of bonding when it comes to visitations. You reply by referring us to the Guide on Visitation Rights by the State Administration.

It is apparent from this guide that visitation is MANDATORY – or that the child has a “right” to visitation. (This is regularly defined as “an obligation to visitation” by the State Administration.)

As AP, we assume that your work is evidence based. And that your statements therefore live up to the same requirements, which must be honored by fair research.

Is there such evidence to support the law (Parental Responsibility Act, PRA) in the demand that visitation is FIRST PRIORITY in the definition of the “best interest of the child”?

We point out that we find the law (PRA) to be a violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in its rigid interpretation of the best interest of the child. The convention underlines that there must be a holistic evaluation, which ALSO weighs in the child’s right to protection.

We are concerned about your first answer, because it sounds like AP is making itself an instrument in the government’s politics. Will you therefore please answer this further, so we do not proceed based on a misunderstanding?

3. Trauma reactions for mothers

In your answer above, you state that “difficult feelings” for the parent who looses a case, is sometimes coped with by complaining over the case process.

This leads our thoughts to when the EU tried to point out the structural problem with the Danish law (PRA). Margrethe Aukent (member of the Socialist People’s Party) closed this case by stating the same thing: That the critique was solely based on statements from “scorned loosers”.

We wish to point out that our sample research shows that close to 100% of the mothers we come into contact with – and whom we regard as victims of both partner violence and system violence – have all or almost all signs of PTSD (what some people now call Complex PTSD).

Many of these mothers are afraid of seeking medical advice, because their medical journals can be force disclosed by the State Administration. (If the mother refuses this, she is stamped as “non-cooperative”.)

These mothers are tied to the traumatic impact during 5 and 10 years because of the law (PRA). They have no way of seeking treatment or of removing themselves from the traumatizing impact.

These mothers are re-traumatized every time an authority reduces their reactions to “scorned feelings” in that they are potentially victims of violations of their human rights. The law (PRA) is not in accordance with neither the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child nor of the Istanbul Convention.

How does AP position itself in relation to this hidden segment of the population?

4. AP and the Board of Psychologists

In your answer, you express your respect for and recognition of the Board of Psychologists. The Board of Psychologists refers as mentioned to the Ministry of Social Affairs and thereby it cannot be assumed that its work is independent from this same Ministry, which is also responsible for the law (PRA).

It is apparent from the report preceding the law (PRA) that one of the purposes with this law is to support equal rights in order to prevent that men are marginalized as a consequence of divorce. It is also apparent that the law (PRA) is a norm-building law, which has the purpose of “sending a signal” to the population.

The expression “the best interest of the child” is thus submitted to this “signal law” and the definition has been altered to match the political signal. In other words, the “best interest of the child” HAS to be defined so that it supports equal rights following divorce.

What is the opinion of the AP on this political use of the term “the best interest of the child”? And are you stating that the AP finds the Board of Psychologists under the Ministry of Social Affairs to be an independent political organ?

We apologize for this long letter. However, the questions we raise are of the utmost significance to the future of Denmark. Therefore, we ask that you come with a clear statement on whether or not the AP is a political independent and evidence-based organ? And how you prioritize your possibility for being the watchdog of fairness?

[Posted as a comment to post of August 6th on the Facebook page of the Danish Association of Psychologists, “Dansk Psykolog Forening”.]

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