Family Rights Group calls for greater risk assessment of abusive fathers

7 February 2011

‘Working with Risky Fathers’ – a study of how Local Authorities work (or don’t work!) with domestically abusive fathers – by the Family Rights Group.

The Charity Family Rights Group has published the first research study in the UK which specifically examines how social workers work with fathers who are domestically abusive. One of the most important reasons for engaging with fathers is – as with mothers – when they are not ‘good enough’ and specifically when they pose a threat to children and/or their children’s mothers.

The two year research report is entitled ‘Working with Risky Fathers – Fathers Matter volume 3: Research findings on working with domestically abusive fathers and their involvement with children’s social care services‘. The report concludes that there are significant lessons that all local authorities, social workers and senior managers and Government need to learn:

  • The onus of child protection social work continues to be focused on the mother to protect the child, even when she is a victim of domestic abuse.
  • Fathers (especially non resident) are too often not engaged or assessed as a risk or resource to the child.
  • Even where the father had perpetrated domestic abuse, they were often in contact with their children, yet all too rarely were parenting assessments undertaken/or perpetrator programmes offered that force them to face up to their abusive behaviour.

The audit of 70 case files in three authorities found that:

  • In 57 cases the perpetrator of the domestic abuse was the birth father and in 12 cases the mother’s partner.
  • In 41% of the cases the adult victim had been pregnant at the time of being abused.
  • In at least 37% of the cases there had been more than six separate reported incidents of domestic violence.
  • Only 12% of perpetrators were noted on the files as having definitely lost contact as a result of the domestic violence.

Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of Family Rights Group, said:

“This pioneering research highlights that too often Children’s Services are neither assessing fathers as a risk or a resource to their children. The research on domestically abusive fathers found that although most did not live with the children’s mother, many had contact with their children (sometimes at the children’s instigation).  Yet these fathers weren’t routinely undergoing a parenting assessment or being offered services designed to confront their behaviour. It is critical that the government invests in effective perpetrator programmes, and that we see a shift in the culture within children’s services to working directly with fathers, including those that may be a risk.”

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4 Comments »

  • Jonny Hoskins says:

    This is very useful research and I welcome Cathy Ashley’s comments. There are fathers in Dorset who wish to access perpetrator programmes (in some cases in order to improve their prospects of seeing their kids)but cannot due to a lack of local provision. I am bringing this to the attention of the Domestic Violence Strategic Co-ordinater in the hope that we can develop services.

    • Mosh says:

      Both fathers AND mothers need to be screened,
      the feminist ideology of father perpetrators
      is putting children at risk of abusive mothers.
      It is really important to screen for mental illness
      if there is evidence of family violence,
      and have it treated.
      This is primarily a medical issue,
      and social services that ignore childrens well being
      in the pursuit of Feminist ideaology,
      need to re think their approach to child welfare.

    • Fatherhood Institute says:

      Abuse by mothers is, of course, also important. The thrust of this project, however, is to tackle the invisibility of fathers in the system, which tends to view mothers (whether or not they themselves are violent, and whether or not they are in contact with violent fathers/father figures) as ‘in charge’ of parenting and therefore the only people worthy of engagement.

  • Gareth says:

    My experience of social care is that as a father you actively try to engage to protect your children’s interests, however are treated like a criminal, whilst they empower mother to abuse. Then when it all blows up in their face they very disingenuously blame the father for failing to take action to protect the children from mum, having themselves ignored paternal assertions of maternal emotional abuse, instead favouring 3 years of paternal “ducking stool” methods, as they fail to recognise that being an almost exclusively female organisation, their cognitive affirmation dictates they identify with a mothers position unless there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Indeed such is the level of gratuitous sexism that in the governments own literature on safeguarding children they make the statement “women can be abusers too”. Imagine if the police issued a similar document stating “White people can be criminals too”. It is a massive issue that will simply not get resolved in this country, as the judiciary and legislature are so in thrall with feminism that they won’t even introduce polygraph testing, which in a great many cases of both child abuse and rape, would have the potential to very much more swiftly and conclusively resolve matters thus reducing the ordeal of fathers and children, and for that matter decent mothers with genuine concerns! Unfortunately though this is not compatible with the “ducking stool” methods currently employed, as women can’t accept truth, where a good man lynching is the preferred agenda, after all they manage to burn plenty of witches, so it works well enough from where they’re standing!

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