Barriers and Opportunities
Nicky Stanley and Cathy Humphreys
There is no national statutory service in the UK whose principal remit is to protect and support women experiencing domestic violence. The task has been identified and taken on by the voluntary sector and, partly in response to its campaigns, gradually acknowledged as one responsibility among the many shouldered by services such as health, the police, probation and social work. Domestic violence does not fit neatly into statutory family support and child protection services. The focus on the 'paramountcy of the child' in these services means that conflicts arise when there are two victims of the abuse – one of whom is an adult. Hence, there is a potential structural problem which lies at the heart of responding appropriately to the needs of a child living with violence and abuse as well as to those of the adult victim who is usually also the child's mother and primary caregiver. Identifying and overcoming this structural challenge is the key to good practice in work on child protection and domestic violence and takes it beyond the remit of committed individuals who have often attempted to work sensitively and effectively in the area.
This challenge provides the context for this chapter which explores selected aspects of multi-agency and multi-disciplinary working which are relevant to front-line workers and their managers in tackling concerns about children who are living with domestic violence. Workers in this area are required to think about what constitutes good practice in relation to domestic violence, not just good