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.
Child Protection Policy & Procedures
- Child Protection Policy & Procedures Template: A template for your organisation to develop comprehensive structures focused on child safety & well-being.
- WWP EN Child Protection Policy
Organisational Child Risk Identification (OCRI) checklist for your organisation
A checklist to assess the risks your organisation’s activities pose to children and determine how to mitigate them. Easy to use and free to download here.
Free child safeguarding self-assessment tool
Could your organisation be putting children at risk of harm? The free Keeping Children Safe self-assessment tool can help you understand your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses – and help you close those child safeguarding gaps.
Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention): Children's rights
Overview of children's rights contained in the Istanbul Convention
Improving Justice in Child Contact Project
Resources developed to support children’s participation in decision-making, e.g. a toolkit aimed at European women’s and/or children’s rights organisations wishing to undertake participation initiatives with children and young people relating to child contact and domestic violence.
Alderson, S., Westmarland, N. & Kelly, L. (2012). The Need for Accountability to, and Support for, Children of Men on Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes. Child Abuse Review. 22(3), 182-193. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/car.2223
Carlson, B. (2000). Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence: Research Findings and Implications for Intervention. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 1(4), 321–342. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838000001004002
Fergusson, D., & Horwood, L. (1998). Exposure to interparental violence in childhood and psychosocial adjustment in young adulthood. Child Abuse & Neglect, 22(5), 339–357. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0145-2134(98)00004-0
Graham-Bermann, S., & Levendosky, A. (1998). Traumatic stress symptoms in children of battered women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13(1), 111–128. https://doi.org/10.1177/088626098013001007
Jaffe, P., Wolfe, D., Wilson, S., & Zak, L. (1986). Similarities in behavioral and social maladjustment among child victims and witnesses to family violence. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 56(1), 142–146. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.1986.tb01551.x
Kilpatrick, K., & Williams, L. (1997). Post-traumatic stress disorder in child witnesses to domestic violence. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 67(4), 639–644. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0080261
Levendosky, A., Huth-Bocks, A., Semel, M., & Shapiro, D. (2002). Trauma symptoms in preschool-age children exposed to domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17(2), 150–164. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260502017002003
Morrison, F. & Houghton, C. (2022). Children’s human rights in the contexts of domestic abuse and COVID-19. The International Journal of Human Rights, https://doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2022.2057963
Whitaker, R., Orzol, S., & Kahn, R. (2006). Maternal mental health, substance use, and domestic violence in the year after delivery and subsequent behavior problems in children at age 3 years. Archives of general psychiatry, 63(5), 551–560. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.63.5.551