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 Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

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.
LanguageEnglish
Pages1-13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume65
Early online date13 Jan 2017
DOIs
StatusPublished - Mar 2017

Fingerprint

private law
Domestic Violence
family law
domestic violence
Hearing
welfare
family court
experience
Child Welfare
Violence
Fathers
child welfare
Research
father
contact
Family Relations
violence
Child Abuse
Disclosure
Consultants

Keywords

  • Domestic violence
  • child contact
  • children’s voices
  • child welfare
  • Cafcass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

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title = "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",
abstract = "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.",
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