In this thought-provoking article about the perils of contact with violent partners, Australian Coroner Judge Gray, investigating a case in which a child was tragically killed by his father calls on state departments to put the welfare of children first and support the ‘protective’ parent – the parent who has been deemed protective of the child in assessment processes.
In a case in England earlier this year, a mother was forced by a judge to send letters to her ex partner, who had tried to murder her in front of their small twin boys. The boys, who were old enough to understand the ordeal they were witnessing, may also be required to have contact with their father at a later date, as he is believed to be hoping to have direct contact with his sons once he has served his prison term.
What is worrying for us in cases like these, is that the root cause of the issues don’t ever seem to get addressed, and therefore it becomes wholly impossible to know whether contact is ever appropriate. Worse still, as the article points out, it is difficult to see how men who abuse women, or women who abuse men, can be automatically assumed to be fit parents. This kind of conduct goes to the heart of deep-seated psychological difficulties which impact every kind of relationship.
Without addressing the mental health concerns of the individuals involved and trying to manage any risk in a highly sophisticated and efficient manner, contact will always be an unacceptable risk and violates the human rights of every child placed in such a precarious position.
But not everyone agrees. So, what do you think? Should violent partners be given access to their children as of right, or should we be much more careful with contact under such conditions?
Thank you to the National Child Protection Alliance for alerting us to this news item.