Using Research to Develop Practice
in Child Protection and Child Care
Historical analyses show that when women have a strong voice, as in the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras, the effect of their campaigns is a greater awareness of and a tougher response to male violence and child abuse (Farmer and Owen 1998; Gordon 1989; Jeffreys 1985; Parker 1995). When the voices of campaigning women are more muted, male violence tends to disappear from sight and societal concerns focus on neglect by mothers. In recent times, feminist activists have worked hard to bring the issues of domestic violence and child sexual abuse to public attention, and since the early 1990s there has been an increasing awareness of the link between domestic violence and child abuse more generally. As a result of active lobbying, changes in legislation, increased research, research overviews and training initiatives (see for example Hester, Pearson and Harwin 2000; Humphreys 2000), domestic violence has been placed firmly on the social work agenda. Undoubtedly, practice has improved. However, there are always continuing challenges to practice, and in this chapter I will draw out some of these and suggest other issues that have received rather less attention.
Research has shown that between a fifth and two-thirds of children known to be abused are also living in circumstances of domestic violence (Hester et al. 2000). In our study of children placed on the child protection register (Farmer and Owen 1995) 52 per cent of the cases involved domestic violence but half of this was not