Dr. Lynn Steinberg and Other Family Advocates Celebrate the Defeat of SB616
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — With the end of the 2021-22 California legislative session, family advocates across the state are celebrating Sen. Susan Rubio’s decision to pull SB616 from the docket. SB616, known as Piqui’s Law, would have barred courts from referring families in crisis to proven psychotherapy treatments that reconnect children and parents who have been alienated, usually during a contentious custody case. It also would have set onerous training requirements for judges and other court professionals.
“SB616 would have legislated the concept of parental alienation out of California jurisprudence and permanently separated thousands of children from a loving parent,” according to Dr. Lynn Steinberg, a family therapist based in Los Angeles.
Parental alienation is when one parent emotionally manipulates a child to speak out against the other parent, often making unfounded accusations of abuse. It is a form of child abuse that can have life-long negative effects.
Steinberg worked with attorney Virginia Griffin Donnell and other team members to spearhead the effort to fight the bill as currently written. They reached out to thousands of family advocates, many of whom are victims of parental alienation, and encouraged them to contact legislators. In response, hundreds of emails and phone calls were made urging elected officials to either amend the bill or, failing that, vote against it.
At a hearing of the California State Senate Judiciary Committee on August 24, Griffin Donnell and others testified against the bill. They were joined in opposition by the Judicial Council, the organization that oversees the California court system. They vehemently opposed the excessive training requirements. The day after the hearing, Rubio announced that she was pulling the bill.
According to Sen. Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), SB616 was introduced “because children continue to be murdered at the hands of an abusive parent during custody disputes.” Dr. Steinberg notes that the provisions in the bill do nothing to protect children.
“To protect children from violence we need the tools to predict future violence,” Steinberg notes. “We must work with psychologists familiar with parental alienation to develop metrics that enable us to best understand the potential threats to a child. In most cases, it is the alienating parent – the one manipulating the child – who is the risk for violence.”
Sen. Rubio is almost certain to introduce a revised version of Piqui’s Law in the next legislative session. Steinberg, Griffin Donnell, and other family advocates expect to have a seat at the table to ensure that their concerns are addressed.
“In 2020, we worked with Sen. Rubio’s office on SB1141, which added ‘coercive control’ to California state law.” This is when an abuser isolates a victim from family and friends and deprives them of basic necessities to control their behavior and emotions. “We have a track record of working with Sen. Rubio in the past and we look forward to working with her again in the future,” states Steinberg.
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SOURCE Lynn Steinberg
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