Highly controversial, and embracing some of the best known names in child welfare, both famous and infamous, how could a conference so explicit, so sensitive in nature, have gone unnoticed by the public at large?

Yet that’s exactly what happened when The Mindful Policy Group, a Group dedicated to using science to promote ‘ a more caring and humane society’ held their first major conference in Westminster this week.

The topic of the conference was attachment, specifically surrounding the shared parenting debate, and at the fore was Dr Allan Schore, who emphasised that the family courts need drastic reform to come into line with scientific knowledge on shared parenting and children of a certain age.

Dr Schore said at the conference, that “…recent developmental neuroscience on the right brain and attachment now suggests negative impact of shared-time parenting arrangement following separation and parental overnights in first (and second) year, when brain doubles in size. Family Law policy about infants needs to incorporate this recent knowledge.”

This will no doubt cause a furore amongst the shared parenting groups and fathers’ rights movement at large and may well be why the conference was kept so tightly under wraps prior to taking place on September 25th. Invitations (150 of them) were also only extended to professionals inside the system. Not very sporting, or democratic, it seems.

Amongst the conference speakers were Penelope Leach, who caused a (calculated) outrage with her sentiments on shared parenting only a few weeks ago. Penelope is the Director for the MPG. Other speakers included, rather oddly, Paul Coleridge of the Marriage Foundation, Tim Loughton (once Children’s Minister-turned-MPG Chairman) and Jessica Lee MP.

It’s no secret that at Researching Reform we feel very strongly about the use of shared parenting, and whilst we’ve made it clear our views do not stem from gender bias, we agree with Dr Schore’s view that certain types of shared parenting arrangements and overnight stays post divorce can and do cause harm.

So once again we re-ignite a sensitive debate, but we do so in order to highlight this latest development, a conference, which should have been aired prior to going forward and which should have allowed for a wider debate, even if that debate was painful and messy.

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