Italians are reeling from the revelation that a crime ring, which includes a mayor, doctors and social workers, had been brainwashing children to say their parents abused them, so as to easily sell them on to foster families.
So far eighteen people, including the mayor of the town of Bibbiano, near Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, have been arrested.
They were suspected of working together to brainwash the kids, who were taken from disadvantaged families under false pretexts, into believing they’d been abused at home. This was later used as a justification to seize the children and, basically, to sell them to foster parents at a high price.
The psychologists at the Hansel and Gretel Association in the town of Moncalieri, near Turin, have used a variety of bizarre techniques to achieve their sinister goal.
They relied on persuasion to make their victims believe that their parents hurt and sexually abused them; showed fake, childlike drawings with added sexual details and even enacted plays, dressing up in scary masks to represent their moms and dads as being vile and dangerous.
The police said the children were also subjected to small electric shocks, referred to as “the little memory machine” by the shrinks.
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An affected girl told La Repubblica paper that when she said that she couldn’t remember and was asking why she couldn’t see her dad anymore, she was told: “But don’t you remember you said you didn’t want to see him? I remember this.”
The psychologist then explained: “Yes, you said you didn’t want to see him because you were afraid that he would hurt you… that he might seek vengeance… or take you away. Do you remember the fear you felt? Do you remember now?”
But the child insisted that she couldn’t remember anything of the sort and that she cried over being separated from her father.
The police also said that they discovered dozens of letters and gifts from biological parents, which the perpetrators had never passed on to the kids.