Policy Press

Publishing with a purpose

Social work, domestic violence and child protection

Challenging practice

By Catherine Humphreys


Jan 26, 2000

Page count

56 pages




297 x 210 mm


Policy Press
Social work, domestic violence and child protection

The 1990s has witnessed a resurgence of interest and concern in the issue of domestic violence. While women are predominantly targets of this violence, there is now a recognition that children are also significantly affected by violence towards their mothers.

This report explores the problems and opportunities presented for child protection workers responding to child abuse that occurred in the context of violence towards the child(ren)'s mother. This particular aspect of domestic violence intervention is frequently overlooked as issues such as policing, child contact, interagency working and offender programmes have gained precedence in the development of intervention strategies.

The responses of social services departments to child abuse arising in the context of domestic violence remain some of the most contentious and controversial in this area. This report:

gives a detailed account of social work practice in the area of domestic violence, using many case examples which illustrate the barriers to effective intervention;

looks in particular at the needs of Asian families in the context of domestic violence and child abuse;

recognises the difficulties of developing sensitive child welfare practice in an area where there has been a traditional separation of services for women and services for children;

provides good practice examples for overcoming the traditional difficulties in this area.

This report is important reading for practitioners, policy makers and managers in social services, and their equivalents in a range of other agencies involved in child protection. It is also valuable reading for social work academics and students interested in the area of domestic violence.

"Great interest to anyone working in the child protection field, especially child and family social workers and other child protection specialists." Julia Pearmain, Adoption & Fostering

"This report is of major importance in what it can tell us about the detail of child protection practice as it relates to domestic violence. Practitioners and policy makers will find crucial lessons here, from both good and bad practice, about challenging men to take responsibility for their own abusive behaviour and about addressing safety issues for women and children." Audrey Mullender

Contents: Introduction; Setting the context: domestic violence and child abuse; Issues of physical health: the domination of 'the atrocity story'; Falling off the agenda: minimisation and avoidance of domestic violence; Adult mental health issues: shifting or ignoring the problem; Alcohol abuse: a brewing problem in domestic violence; Focusing on offending: 'challenging the invisible man'; Key forums: child protection conferences and core reviews; Raising the stakes: violence against workers; Conclusion.

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