From Blaming Mothers to Providing
Positive Support – The Role
of Welfare Agencies
As argued in previous chapters, the tendency by the courts and legal professionals to construe women as the problem in child contact cases, rather than the men who are violent, creates situations where both women and children continue to be abused. Yet, supporting mothers to be safe has been recognized as a particularly positive approach in child protection where domestic violence is an issue. So what is the problem? A major problem faced by practitioners working with mothers and children experiencing domestic violence is that they are presented with a set of quite different, separate and indeed contradictory ideas and practice approaches in relation to 'domestic violence', 'child protection' and 'child contact' respectively. Mothers and fathers end up construed quite differently in relation to 'safe parenting' and mother blaming is the outcome. In this chapter, these issues and the consequences for practitioners from welfare agencies and organizations working with domestic violence are discussed, and we look at how some professionals have managed to move away from woman blaming to the use of more supportive and positive approaches.
In both North America and the UK, services dealing with child maltreatment and protection developed separately from those dealing with domestic violence. This has meant that child protection professionals and services have