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Hearing children's voices? Including children's perspectives on their experiences of domestic violence in welfare reports prepared for the English courts in private family law proceedings Gillian S. Macdonald

By: Macdonald, Gillian S.
Material type: materialTypeLabelArticleSeries: Child Abuse & Neglect.Publisher: Elsevier, 2017Subject(s): ACCESS | CHILD EXPOSURE TO VIOLENCE | CHILD WELFARE | CHILDREN'S RIGHTS | CONTACT | DISCLOSURE | DOMESTIC VIOLENCE | FAMILY COURT | FAMILY LAW | FATHERS | INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE | JUSTICE | SEPARATION | VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE | UNITED KINGDOMOnline resources: Read abstract In: Child Abuse & Neglect, 2017, 65: 1-13Summary: This research examined Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) reports prepared for private family court proceedings in domestic violence cases in England. The research found that in cases where children’s accounts identified them as victims of violence, these disclosures regularly disappeared from report recommendations. Particular discourses regarding ‘child welfare’ and ‘contact’ were identified, which routinely impacted on the ways in which children’s voices were taken into account. Whilst culturally there has undoubtedly been an influential move towards including children’s perspectives in decision-making that affects them, how these views are interpreted and represented is subject to adult ‘gate-keeping’ and powerful cultural and professional ideologies regarding ‘child welfare’ and ‘post-separation family relationships’. This research found that the unrelenting influence of deeply embedded beliefs regarding the preservation or promotion of relationships with fathers continues to have the effect of marginalising issues of safeguarding, including children’s voiced experiences of violence, in all but the most exceptional of cases. Rather, safeguarding concerns in respect of domestic violence and child abuse were persistently overshadowed by a dominant presumption of the overall benefits of contact with fathers. (Author's abstract). Record #5922
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Child Abuse & Neglect, 2017, 65: 1-13

This research examined Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) reports prepared for private family court proceedings in domestic violence cases in England. The research found that in cases where children’s accounts identified them as victims of violence, these disclosures regularly disappeared from report recommendations. Particular discourses regarding ‘child welfare’ and ‘contact’ were identified, which routinely impacted on the ways in which children’s voices were taken into account. Whilst culturally there has undoubtedly been an influential move towards including children’s perspectives in decision-making that affects them, how these views are interpreted and represented is subject to adult ‘gate-keeping’ and powerful cultural and professional ideologies regarding ‘child welfare’ and ‘post-separation family relationships’. This research found that the unrelenting influence of deeply embedded beliefs regarding the preservation or promotion of relationships with fathers continues to have the effect of marginalising issues of safeguarding, including children’s voiced experiences of violence, in all but the most exceptional of cases. Rather, safeguarding concerns in respect of domestic violence and child abuse were persistently overshadowed by a dominant presumption of the overall benefits of contact with fathers. (Author's abstract). Record #5922