Hostile-aggressive parents generally try to keep their pattern of behaviour from being noticed by
friends and others in the community such as schools and day care providers. Most of the time HAP
parents they know that what they are doing to their children is wrong but do not want to be
embarrassed for what they know most people in the community would consider to be bad parenting
behaviour. These HAP parents continuously hide the truth behind a wall of deception and over a
period of time become quite skilled at deceiving others. Often HAP parents may threaten and
intimidate children to remain silent about abuse, causing children to be terrified of saying anything
about their abusive parentís behaviour.
Members of the community can play a vital role in eliminating the harm done by hostile-aggressive
parents. By learning to identify the presence of HAP and refusing to participate in a hostileaggressive
parentís campaign of abuse against a child, people in the community can help to protect
the child and help to make the community a better and more caring place for all to live.
Schools, child care agencies and their workers
Schools and child care agencies are often on the front line when it comes to dealing with the
problems associated with families in conflict as a result of separation and divorce. Many teachers
and school officials will undoubtedly have to deal with children from broken homes where parental
conflict is high and where HAP is noticeably present. Through their extensive day-to-day
involvement with children, teachers and early childhood educators may often be in a position where
they are exposed to the behaviour of hostile-aggressive parents or may observe the effects of HAP
with children they teach or care for.
Quite often, HAP parents (usually custodial) will attempt to drag the school into the conflict and
will attempt to mislead school officials to take sides against the other parent, often against the
wishes and preferences of the child. By large, the most common problem that school officials face
is the situation where the custodial HAP parent will attempt to have school officials restrict the
other parentís access to the chid while the child is at school. The custodial parent will advise
school officials (usually the principal or the childís teacher) and advise principal and/or staff that
they are the custodial parent and that the other parent cannot contact the child except during the
other parentís access time. The most common things that an HAP parent may do to involve school
officials in their campaign against the other parent are:
- Advise school staff of the other parentís court Ordered access times and attempt to mislead
school officials into believing that the court Order is to be interpreted as meaning that the
other parent cannot see or be with the child at any other time than the times scheduled in the
- Advise school staff that the other parent is not allowed to take the child out to lunch or to be at
the school at times which are not specified on the court Order.
- Tell staff that if the other parent shows up to school that the custodial parent should be
- Tell staff that the other parent should not be allowed to participate in school activities with the
child such as helping the teacher or attending school outings, etc.
Unfortunately, school officials are to often misled by HAP parents and end up causing harm to the
child by becoming active participants of the HAP parentís campaign to exercise power and control
over the non-custodial parent.
At any time, should a parent request school officials to take an action that would appear to unfairly
advantage one parent or contradict a childís reasonable wishes and preferences, the school should
become highly suspicious of this parentís request as chances are it is not in the best interest of the
child. Children affected by HAP should perceive the school as a safe haven for them where they are
free from parents harassing or intimidating them while on school property. If a child indicates that
they do not feel comfortable with a particular parent coming to the school and there would appear to
be reasonable reason for this, then school officials should respect the childís wishes by keeping that
parent from coming on school property.
Schools and day care facilities need to have appropriate policies regarding children who are being
exposed to abuse by a HAP parent. Schools should also develop protocols when abuse by an HAP
parent is suspected.
Some of the things that schools and child care agencies and their workers can do to help protect
children are as follows:
- Ensure that all workers working with children are educated about Hostile-Aggressive
parenting and its solutions as part of their training.
- Before accepting children into a child daycare facility, providers should ideally meet both
parents before agreeing to provide day care services or at the very least provide both parents
the equal opportunity to meet with providers. Make parents aware right up front that there
will be no discrimination against either parent.
- At all times, schools and day care facilities should provide both parents with the same level
of service, courtesy and access to information unless a clear court Order indicates otherwise.
Schools especially, should be wary of discriminating against parents as this may violate
constitutional laws and result in an expensive and messy lawsuit. Schools and daycare
facilities must send a clear message to those children affected by separation and divorce that
schools and daycare facilities are a safe place for children and that Hostile-Aggressive
Parenting behaviour will not be tolerated.
- School officials should be willing to speak to the child and to be aware of the childís wishes
and preferences if requested to do so. Quite often, children will report abuse to teachers
they trust before they will report it to strangers such as child welfare protection workers.
Again, school officials must make themselves aware of the possibility of parental coaching
of young children and know how to question children appropriately. In all instances
children must be interviewed outside the presence of either of the parents either inside or
even outside of the room. Children who have not been coached by a parent should be able
to clearly articulate their wishes and preferences and provide clear reasons to support their
- Never interfere with one parentís access to services based on the request of only one parent.
Should one parent try to interfere with the childís relationship with another parent or with
one parentís relationship with the school or day care facility or any worker, then insist that
the parent present a court order requires the school or day care facility to comply with these
demands or at the very least, provide reasonable third party information, in writing, to
support the parentís claims. Claims by HAP parents often begin to fall apart when they are
asked for credible evidence to support their claims.
- In all cases where parents are requesting school officials to take some form of action which
they claim is to protect the child, then some sort of evidence, in writing, should be provided
to school officials to support a parentís requests. If a parentís complaints appear to be valid,
then school officials should advise the parent to obtain a court Order specifically outlining
what the other parentís restrictions at the childís school are. If the parentís concerns are
valid, then that parent will have no problem in obtaining a court Order in a reasonable period
of time. Refuse to become a collaborator to child abuse by not being a part of a parentís
campaign to abuse the child and/or the other parent unless the parent can provide you with
evidence, in writing, to support their allegations.
- Studies show that the involvement of non-custodial parents in their childís education can
have a positive impact on the childís learning experience at the school so parental
involvement at school should be encouraged whenever possible. The best interest of the
child must take president over the wishes of a hostile-aggressive parent who in most cases
want to keep the other parent from involving themselves with the childís school.
- At the first sign of conflict between parents, insist that the parties use a neutral third party
for communication. Insist that parents not involve teachers or daycare providers in their
personal issues and instead have parents use a neutral third party appointed to deal with
issues between parents. The third party can then communicate with school or daycare
facility regarding any issues which may affect workers with these agencies. Should a parent
not be willing to have a third party get involved then suspect that parentís motives. HAP
parents generally want to have full control of the situation and generally do not want neutral
third parties helping in the conflict.
- Have those working with the children maintain proper records and logs whenever hostileaggressive
parenting is observed or if the child exhibits signs that could indicate abuse.
Such signs may be the childís sadness about not seeing one parent or about reporting abuse
by a hostile parent. Remember, Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is child abuse and will likely
affect the child in some manner at school.
- Be ready and willing to report Hostile-Aggressive Parenting and to provide reliable
testimony to the court if be requested by the parents. Exposing HAP parents and supporting
children who are victims of the actions of HAP parents is one of the best ways to control and
eliminate this serious form of child abuse.
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Extended family, friends & community
Unfortunately, too often, friends and family tend to support those who are part of their family or
group of friends without questioning how their support for the parent they know may be affecting
the child. This approach can often be wrong and have devastating negative effect on a child. Many
times, family members end up supporting the HAP parent without knowing it.
Friends, family and neighbours should be cautious in believing negative comments from one parent
about the other, even if it is their own family member who is giving them information. People in
the community whose support is being sought by a parent should take the time to make themselves
of the issues before providing their blind support. They should be especially cautious when it
would appear that their support is sought to support what are considered as Hostile-Aggressive
Parenting behaviours by one of the parents such as trying to restrict the childís access to the other
parent. If it would appear that any parent is exhibiting any of the HAP behaviours listed in this
document, then extreme caution must be exercised in supporting this parent. People in the
community must do what is right for the child and to be careful not to cause further harm to the
child by providing support to the HAP parent.
When extended family members and other people in a community refuse to support parents who
abuse their children through HAP behaviours, then those parents harming their child by HAP will
more than likely change the way they parent their children. The concept that, ďit takes a village to
raise a childĒ is still a concept that has worked for many generations in the past and still works
today. A community that stands united against Hostile-Aggressive Parenting, will help to send a
strong message to parents who may be harming their children that this is not acceptable behaviour.
Only when the community stands up can we hope to eliminate this most serious form of child
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Health care professionals
Health care professionals in the community such as doctors and nurses should be very careful that
they do get themselves involved in the hostilities in a manner that hurts the child. Hostileaggressive
parents will often present themselves quite well to professionals such as doctors, nurses,
police officers, etc. and are often masters of deception. HAP parents will often feed misleading and
one-sided information to health care professionals for the purpose of extracting opinion or
recommendation letters from these professionals which favour the HAP parentís position in court.
Often the HAP parent will use these letters to block the other parentís access time with the child or
use the letters in court against the other parent at some time in the future. In most cases, however,
when professionals do look into matters more closely and seek information from the other side
before writing such letters, they find that they have been duped by the HAP parent. Under such
circumstances, many professionals can find themselves the subject of a disciplinary hearing or civil
lawsuit. Any professional who is requesting by a parent to support any action which would be
appear to be a hostile-aggressive action or a violation of the childís rights, should carefully and
fully review the circumstances before taking action for one parent. Taking the time to speak to the
other parent is usually one of the best things to do to protect both the professional and the child who
may be under the control of a HAP parent.
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Police and child welfare protection workers
Law enforcement and child welfare protection agencies in the community must also very careful
that they do not involve themselves in a manner that end up hurting the child and benefiting the
HAP parent. Failure to identify and effectively deal with an HAP parent can have a devastating
effect on the child.
HAP parents will often attempt to use the police or child welfare protection agencies as a tool in
their campaign to destroy their childís relationship with the other parent. The most common thing
that an HAP parent will do to involve the police or child welfare protection agencies will be to
allege that the other parent has assaulted, stalked or threatened them or has physically or sexually
assaulted the child. The HAP parent tries to get police to lay charges as once charges are laid, then
the court or child welfare protection workers will likely prevent the other parent from having
contact with the child. Even if the parent is found innocent, the effect that the HAP parent wanted
would have been achieved. HAP parents are masterminds of deception and can often spin a good
story when it comes to making false allegations against their former partner. The problem is that
with the Zero Tolerance policies in many areas, the false allegations often achieve the desired result
of interfering with the childís relationship with the other parent for a long period of time.
Police and child welfare protection agencies must be very diligent in investigating such allegations
and to see if the behaviours of the accuser categorize them as an HAP parent, then police should be
very careful to get involved unless there is clear and convincing evidence that would show that the
allegations are legitimate. Police and child welfare protection agencies should carefully interview
all collateral witnessed and should never lay charges or take a child away from one of the parents
based on just the allegations of the accuser. Allegations must be supported by reasonable collateral
Failure by authorities to properly investigate allegations made by HAP parents will ultimately result
in the loss of respect of the authorities by people in the community. Children who have had their
relationship damaged by the HAP parent with the help of local authorities will likely grow up with
a strong dislike of local authorities. This is not good for these agencies which rely on support from
the community. Agencies should encourage the involvement of other family member using
ďFamily Group ConferencingĒ strategies before using the criminal justice system to intervene in
these types of family matters when the risk to a child may be small, however, where serious risk to
a child may be a potential possibility, or where a child is expressing fear and anxiety of the HAP
parent, authorities must move quickly to remove the child for an interim period of time from the
care and control of the HAP parent.
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