Divorce is a painful process, not just for the parents involved but especially for the children caught in the crossfire. The emotional toll it takes on a family is immeasurable, and the last thing any parent would want is for their child to be further exploited during such a vulnerable time. However, Washington University in St. Louis seems to think otherwise.
A distressed parent who wishes to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of her ongoing divorce reached out to The Gateway Pundit, sharing a deeply unsettling letter she received from the university.
The letter, penned by Dr. Susan Perlman, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University, invites the parent and her child to participate in a study on the impact of divorce on children.
The study, known as the Child Affect and Resilience to Experiences Study (CARE) and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aims to examine how divorce affects children’s stress response systems and mental health. While the subject matter may seem innocuous, the methods proposed are far from it.
The study involves putting children through three MRI scans and collecting hair, saliva, and potentially blood samples. All this, mind you, during a time when the family is already grappling with the emotional and psychological toll of divorce.
The letter also mentions a financial incentive of up to $570 for parents who agree to full participation. This is a manipulative tactic that preys on families who may be financially strained due to legal fees and the costs associated with divorce. Offering money in exchange for subjecting a child to invasive tests is not just unethical; it’s exploitative.
From its website:
Please contact us if you have a 4-7-year-old child to join the CARE study!
We are looking for kids whose parents are either experiencing separation/divorce OR have never experienced separation/divorce. If your family fits either of those descriptions, you might be eligible for the CARE study!
Please Note: Separating parents do not have to be legally married or legally divorced to be eligible for this study. We are interested in any family undergoing parental separation.
Study includes MRI and fNIRS scanning (non-invasive, safe brain scans).
Children play games and watch movies.
The participating parent completes questionnaires
Children will receive a small prize and picture of their brain.
Families earn up to $570 for full participation (3 visits over 18 months).
Transportation provided or reimbursed.
“I recently filed for divorce and received this disturbing letter from Washington University. It’s hard enough for a family and child going through a divorce as is,” the mother, who chose to remain anonymous, told The Gateway Pundit.
What is most alarming about this letter is the way it was solicited. The university is trawling through public court records to find families going through a divorce. This is an invasion of privacy and a blatant exploitation of a family’s vulnerable situation.
Moreover, the letter explicitly states that only one parent is required to participate in the study with the child. This is a glaring loophole that could potentially allow one parent to subject their child to these procedures without the other parent’s knowledge or consent, especially in families already strained by divorce.
“Wash U is going through court databases and soliciting children, attempting to exploit them and put them through 3 MRIs, inject with contrast and sedatives? Also, please note the language of only needing one parent to participate and the financial incentive,” the parent said.
“We already have plenty of research how to help children process a divorce in a healthy way and this is NOT it! Totally offensive, unethical and disgusting!” the parent added.
The field of psychology already has extensive research on how children can be helped to cope with the emotional fallout of divorce. Therapeutic interventions such as CODIP, counseling, and open communication within the family are some of the well-established methods.
The outraged parent wanted Washington University to be exposed for their “insensitive and unethical approach to exploiting children as Guinea Pigs during an already painful period of their life.”
Read the disturbing letter below:
My name is Dr. Susan Perlman and I am an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. I am the director of the Laboratory for Child Brain Development which specializes in studying brain maturation in preschool and early school-age children in order to better understand their mental health.
I am writing to invite you and your child to participate in a new and exciting study that has recently begun in the St. Louis area. We found your family’s name and contact information through public court records.
We are recruiting 4-7 year-old children whose parents have recently decided to divorce/separate for the Child Affect and Resilience to Experiences Study (CARE). This study is examining the impact of divorce/separation on children and their families and will be the first study to investigate how this early-life experience impacts children’s stress response biological systems and mental health, as well as how the parent-child relationship might protect them from poor outcomes.
This study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01 MH124266) and has been approved by the Wash U Institutional Review Board (IRB #202007029). Participation in the CARE study includes three visits to our laboratory at Wash U over the period of 1.5 years.
Children will participate in a MRI scan, an interaction task with their parent, and will provide hair and saliva samples with the option to provide a blood sample. Parents will also complete questionnaires and interviews about their and their child’s emotions, health, and life stressors. We will not discuss the divorce/separation or any other stressor with your child. Your child will experience a fun day of learning about science and their brain! Only one parent is required to participate in the study with the child.
Parents will be paid up to $570 for full participation in the study and children will receive a framed picture of their brain and prizes. Transportation/Parking is provided and evening and weekend testing hours are available. You can learn more information about our laboratory and our research program by visiting www.childbrainlab.com.
The Gateway Pundit has reached out to Washington University and Dr. Susan Perlman for comment regarding data mining from public records, parental consent, financial incentives, and on the invasive procedures on children.
Washington University School of Medicine issued a statement to The Gateway Pundit:
“The study was reviewed and approved by Washington University’s Institutional Review Board, which ensures that research studies are ethical, that the welfare of participants is protected and that the study complies with federal law and university policy. The research does not involve sedation or the injection of contrast agents.”