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Keywords:

  • domestic violence;
  • child protection;
  • child well being;
  • social exclusion

The issue of domestic violence has gained greater recognition within public policy in the United Kingdom over the past decade. There is a recognition that up to one million children may have been exposed to violence between the adults with whom they live. This has consequences for the child in both the short and long term in terms of social and emotional adjustment. However, most male perpetrators of domestic violence are never held to account through the criminal justice system and therefore the child protection system is the safety net for these children. This though can result in a response that is premised on women's responsibility to protect their child from experiencing harm, typically by either leaving or forcing her partner to leave. Child welfare professionals do not engage with the men who are the source of the problem, rather women are held accountable for allowing their children and themselves to be in this situation. In this article this issue is discussed and proposals offered to improve this situation through empowering women, holding men to account for their behaviour whilst also recognising their position as fathers.