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As applied in family theory and therapy, this biblical metaphor refers to a situation in which parents attempt to resolve a conflict between themselves by seeking and/or exaggerating problems in another family member. As a rule, the person "recruited" to be the scapegoat is a child.

Definition extracted with permission from Simon, Fritz, et al, Family Process, Inc.: Language of Family Therapy: A Systemic Vocabulary and Source Book (Family Process Press Series)