We are excited to share the important work of NJ Safe & Sound, an organization that works to protect individuals and families from predatory alienation and undue influence. Predatory alienation is defined as "extreme undue influence on, or coercive persuasion or psychologically damaging manipulation of another person that results in physical or emotional harm, or the loss of finical assets, disrupts a parent-child relationship, leads to a deceptive or exploitative relationship, or isolates the person from family and friends."
The organization provides a number of great prevention resources, but our favorite is their "The Spectrum of Influence" bookmark, with healthy forms of social influence on the left an increasingly dangerous forms of social influence to the right. The bookmark is available "to remind high school and college-bound students about the various degrees of social influence and how to protect themselves from the coercive control exerted by gangs, sexual predators, swindlers, destructive cults, and other dangerous individuals and groups that target school campuses and other places where teenagers and young adults gather."
Requests for free copies of "The Spectrum of Influence" bookmarks can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also download a copy of the bookmark here and is also available in French and Spanish.
The organization has been on the forefront of legislation to address the problem of predatory alienation. In May 2017, Senate Bill 2562 was successfully passed, which stated "the Departments of Children and Families and Human Services shall conduct a joint study and make recommendations concerning predatory alienation and its effects on young adults and senior citizens."
As a result, a research team from the Center on Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) of the Rutgers University School of Social Work conducted a study of predatory alienation and its effects on young adults and senior citizens and presented their findings to the governor and legislature. The results of that report can be found here:
Unsurprisingly, the study found that "there is presently no mechanism for a family to safeguard its members over age 16 from predatory alienation and undue influence." In response to this, the organization has created a letter-writing campaign for those residing in New Jersey, urging state representatives to introduce legislation to protect against undue influence and predatory alienation, regardless of the age of the victim. If you live in the area, we encourage you to participate in this campaign and support the important work of this organization.
Written by Abigail Hazlett