The child protection systems' response to domestic violence

Des Lauriers, Julie (2007) The child protection systems' response to domestic violence. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The co-occurrence of domestic violence (DV) and child maltreatment is high. Response to both problems has historically been via two different systems. However, child protection workers are increasingly asked to respond to this co-occurrence since research has identified that exposure to DV can negatively impact on children and that child maltreatment often co-occurs with DV. This study looks at child protection systems response to families affected by DV by using two research methods. First, a systematic review was conducted using research papers focusing on child protection workers response to families experiencing DV. Second, a critical discourse analysis of current Australian child protection policies was conducted. Findings from the systematic review show that child protection workers' response to abused mothers went from treating them as 'mad' in the 1980s, to labelling them 'failure to protect' in the 1990s and early 2000. These findings showed continued focus on abused mothers rather than on perpetrators of DV. Some contradictions were found around child removal data. However, important links were found between re-notification of children and subsequent removal. Findings from the Australian policy analysis revealed that most policies referred to DV as a child protection issue and used a feminist definition of DV. However, not all states had detailed guidelines on how to intervene safely and effectively with families affected by DV. Discussions and recommendations focus around the pressing need for more DV expertise within child protection systems. It also discusses the issue of responsibility placed on abused mothers while perpetrators of DV remain invisible. Finally, it discusses the response to children exposed to DV compared to the response to children exposed to DV who are also victim of direct child maltreatment. The key recommendations of this study are to have DV expertise within the child protection systems, to empower abused mothers rather than blaming them, which implies putting the responsibility back on the perpetrator of DV and to have resources and systems in place before responding to child exposure to DV as child maltreatment per se.

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ID Code: 16620
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Burton, Judith & Matchett, Ruth
Keywords: spouse abuse, domestic violence, family violence, battered wife/wives, abused women, abused mothers, intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, violence against women, child abuse, child protection, youth protection, child neglect, children services, child welfare, child mistreatment, child maltreatment
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Department: QUT Carseldine
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Julie Des Lauriers
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:07
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:50

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