Domestic violence in the home may overshadow other serious risks to children a new Cafcass report suggests.
The court service examined the details of 97 serious case reviews. These are conducted following the death of vulnerable children or when such youngsters experience serious harm. The researchers found that having parents prone to outbursts of domestic violence was the biggest single risk factor in a particular child later becoming the subject of a review: it featured in 69 of the cases studied, or 71 per cent.
But in close to half of those cases – 33- the person suspected of murdering or harming the child was not the parent who engaged in domestic abuse. And in half again of those cases – 14 – the child themselves caused the harm which was the subject of the later serious case review.
Twenty-eight per cent of cases featured drug or alcohol abuse, domestic abuse and mental illness amongst the parents. One of these factors was found in nearly 90 per cent of all the cases examined.
Report co-author Richard Green is national childcare policy manager for Cafcass. He explained:
“The suspected perpetrator of the serious incident was not necessarily the person that was thought to pose the greatest risk during proceedings. Some children were harmed or died in an alternative placement, or at the hands of the parent considered to be the ‘safe’ one.”
Most serious case reviews conclude that the death or episode of serious harm occurred due to unforeseen factors and could not therefore reasonably have been prevented.
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