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- Symptoms of HAP

- Underlying causes of HAP

- Observable effects from
  exposure to HAP

- Severe HAP

- Addressing & dealing with HAP

- Role of the community

- Sanctions for HAP

- How to help

- HAP documentation (PDF)
Legal Approaches
In the vast majority of cases, effective legal approaches will eliminate or at the very least, effectively control emotional and physical harm to children caused by Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. It must be noted that in the vast majority of cases, the behaviour of HAP parents will correct their behaviour quickly once the watchful eye of the court or other specialists from the community who have knowledge of HAP have been brought into the case.

One of the main problems is that in recent years the courts have become too lenient when dealing with hostile-aggressive behaviours with parents. The courts failure to sanction those parents who are abusive to their children through HAP has actually resulted in a greater incidence of abuse against children caused by HAP. To effectively deal with Hostile-Aggressive Parenting, the courts must apply positive motivators to reward parents for good parenting behaviour as well as effective penalties to discourage Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. Re-establishing a power balance between the HAP parent and the other parent is one of first, most crucial steps in stopping HAP behaviours as this allows the child to see that the HAP parent is no longer able to prevent the child from seeking meaningful help through the other parent (usually the non-custodial parent).

Parents who continue to expose their children to Hostile–Aggressive Parenting need to be warned by the court that if they do not end their hostile parenting patterns, court sanctions will be imposed upon them, including reversal of primary care or even custody of the child. Court sanctions not only serve to "remind" the hostile parent to cooperate and to behave in a civil manner, but are very useful for the children as well. Effective sanctions set an example to the children and all family members that Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is not acceptable behaviour to our society and that the courts will not tolerate it. When a child feels reassured that the system will protect him/her from their hostile-aggressive parent it will give the child the courage to express their love to the more reasonable parent and will ease the fear they might otherwise feel if they were to admit to the HAP parent that they themselves really want to see the other parent. In such situations, the child can say what they know they must to satisfy the hostile parent’s need to feel that the children love them more than the other parent but knowing at the same time that the hostile parent must take them to see the other parent and that what they say to the hostile-aggressive parent will not be somehow used against the friendly parent. Many times HAP parents will pressure the child to say that they don’t want to see the other parent. This of course is used as part of the strategy to justify what the child should not be seeing the other parent. Unfortunately, in most communities there are a number of biased social workers and counsellors who have no knowledge of HAP who will support the hostile-aggressive parent’s campaign to alienate the child from the other parent.

It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that one of most powerful incentives to get the hostile– aggressive parent to act in the best interest of their child is through a collaborative approach from family, the community and the courts. This is a very important factor in providing the children of separation and divorce with the support mechanism, outside of their parents, they so desperately need. Children are often afraid to express their wishes and preferences out of their fear of a custodial HAP parent. Generally, children want a relationship with both parents and need the help of the courts and the community to ensure this without the children themselves, having to say it.