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The Heene Parents and Emotional Abuse

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I am outraged and disgusted by the behavior of both Heene parents.

heene family

Dr. Michelle Golland: If what is said is true, there is clear evidence of emotional abuse and neglect. Many people think that Child Protective Services only gets involved in cases of physical and sexual abuse, but there are also categories of neglect and emotional abuse.

Although it varies from state to state, emotional abuse or maltreatment is defined as a pattern of behavior by parents or caregivers that can seriously interfere with a child's cognitive, emotional, psychological, or social development. Emotional abuse includes severe and repetitive ignoring, rejecting, and isolating, verbally assaulting, terrorizing, and neglect of medical, psychological, or educational services.

This kind of abuse also includes exploiting or corrupting a child -- i.e., a child is taught, encouraged, or forced to develop inappropriate or illegal behaviors. It may involve self-destructive acts of the parent or illegal activities the parent is involved in. It is this area of emotional abuse that I believe the Heene parents are guilty of.

It is reportable as a crime against a child to use them as a commission of a crime and contribute to their delinquency. If they coerced their children to participate in the balloon hoax, Mayumi and Richard Heene are in big trouble and should be investigated by the proper authorities. It seems questionable if they in fact should be able to keep their children in the home. Richard Heene has an anger and serious boundary problem, as evidenced by both his "Wife Swap" episodes as well as his behavior around the balloon incident. If it doesn't reach the level of removing the children from the home, it at least should require some serious and long-term interventions for both the parents as well as these boys.

If parading your children on national TV to perpetuate a hoax and coercing them to lie to authorities and the media does not meet emotional abuse, then I don't know what does. I believe the Heene parents should be made an example of and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, which should include repaying the cost of services to the state of Colorado, investigation by Child Protective Services, and not being allowed to make any money off of this crime, ever.

This incident did not end in a tragedy, except for the eye-opening narcissism of one couple that would damage their children's emotional well-being at the hopes of landing a reality show. All parents or individuals who are self-centered or stupid enough to try such a thing should be put on notice that your show may be canceled before it even begins. Oh, and by the way, you will end up with a large debt, possible jail time, and just might lose your children for your greed and ignorance.

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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
tennmom October 26, 2009, 7:47 AM

Iwas especially angered at both parents for continuing to sit during one interview as their child ran off to the bathroom retching. The interviewer had to ask Mayumi if she wanted to go check on the poor child. Of course she didn’t. She wanted to get as much air time as she could, along with her poor excuse for a husband.

jennifer October 26, 2009, 7:47 AM

Agreed! Watching the little boy throw up on TV was such a clear illustration of the emotional abuse he had suffered at the hands of his terribly narcissistic parents!

michelle October 26, 2009, 8:30 AM

I definitely get that in this case they were coercing their kids to perpetuate a hoax (a criminal act), but did anyone read Frank Rich’s column on this yesterday? He reads this as just a more extreme example of what is already a disturbing trend in the culture. There are plenty of other parents who are pimping out their kids for TV. Isn’t there also plenty of emotional abuse on Toddlers and Tiaras? Shouldn’t those parents be prosecuted too?

Emma October 26, 2009, 10:21 AM

Michelle you bring up an excellent point. And what about Kate plus 8 or what ever is called now and all of those other shows filming children 24/7? Our culture has become so focused on our 15 minutes of fame that we will do anything to get it. And of course the rest of us are only feeding more into it by constantly reading about it on articles like this one. Is a never ending cycle

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