Children should be safe and doing well – this is a value on which we can all agree. However, ensuring child safety in the practice of our organisations, for every single child, especially working in the field of domestic violence, is not an easy goal to achieve.
Perpetrator work is one link in a long chain of services and interventions that ensure the safety and well-being of the victims of domestic violence. Having victim safety as one of the goals of our programs is not nearly enough to ensure that our work is truly oriented toward safety, well-being and the best interest of a child.
Professionals and organisations in this field often encounter dilemmas. Many practices focus on the woman as the victim, excluding the children from interventions. Some of the dilemmas emerge when it comes to directly working with children, e.g. how to approach a child in a way that will not lead to re-traumatization. Even when not working directly with children, but „in the name of a child“, or addressing issues that can affect a child, it can be difficult to keep the needs and the best interest of a child in the focus, or to correctly assess its needs. This is especially the case when other processes are active, like custody issues or lawsuits for child abuse and neglect.
Comprehensive, clear and well-implemented child protection policies and procedures are crucial to:
- ensure that your practice is child-centered and safe
- enable timely and standardized reactions in cases when children are harmed, or at risk of being harmed
- ensure that employees are committed to child safety and well-being
- show the organisation’s commitment to child safety and well-being to the local community and donor organizations (some calls for projects emphasize the need for a child protection policy as one of the criteria for applicants)
Establishing child safety and well-being focused practices may start with the adoption of a child protection policy, but it doesn’t end there. It requires continuous monitoring, evaluation and capacity building of the staff.
WWP EN supports perpetrator programmes in child safety oriented work.