Contact arrangements endanger children, Community Care conference hears

Children’s safety is being compromised by contact arrangements, delegates at a Community Care conference heard yesterday.
“Contact – not safety – is now paramount,” said Marianne Hester, professor of gender, violence and international policy at Bristol University. This is partly because of an emphasis on children having contact with both parents, which affects policy, practice and law, she explained.
But practitioners are still failing to link a history of domestic violence to danger for children, including during contact, she added.
Research shows contact is “not necessarily in the best interests of children,” she said, adding that it is the quality of contact that matters.
Tension exists between children’s right to know both parents and their right to safety and protection, she added.
Alison Buchanan, children’s officer at Women’s Aid, expressed concerns about the Children and Adoption Act 2006.
“It is not clear how children’s welfare will be maintained, as the government rejected a requirement for safe contact in the act,” said Buchanan.
Both speakers referred to a Women’s Aid report on 29 children killed by their fathers as a result of contact and to a response to the study by Lord Justice Wall.
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