Season 4 Episode 10: Ensuring the Voice of the Child is Heard, and Child’s Best Interests are Considered in Domestic Abuse Cases: How the Safe & Together Model Helps Promote the Rights of Children
Play • 52 min
  • Are children domestic violence victims in their own right? 
  • Are they co-victims with the adult survivor? 
  • What is the relationship between the child and the adult survivors’ experiences
  • How do we hold domestic violence perpetrators accountable in their role as parents? 
  • How do we consider the child’s relationship to the perpetrator in decisions related to them? 
  • How do we make sure both adult and child survivors receive the support they need and deserve? 
  • How do we consider the best interests of child survivors as we craft our policy and practice response to domestic violence? 
  • How do we ensure that child survivors’ voices are heard in matters that are relevant to them? 

These are some of the critical questions being asked around the globe as governments, through their courts, legislatures and agencies, work to ensure the safety and well-being of children impacted by domestic violence perpetrators’ behaviors. They are not just academic questions as they are central to decisions made every day by governmental bodies like child protection and family court.  For governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a primary touchstone for these questions is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the most widely accepted human rights document in history.  

From its inception the Safe & Together Model has employed a robust child-centered framework to keep the focus on children’s experience, needs and wishes in the context of domestic violence cases. Compared to other domestic violence assessment and practice frameworks which often treat children as an afterthought to the safety and well-being of the adult survivor, the Safe & Together Model has always focused on addressing the children’s distinct lived experiences. It differs dramatically from other approaches which assume that you don’t need to focus separately on the experience of the child but only need to keep the children safe by keeping the adult survivor safe — in essence making invisible the unique and individual experience of the child. 

In this episode, David and Ruth discuss how the Safe & Together Model supports the rights of children through the lens of its alignment with the UNCRC. With a special focus on the "voice of the child" (Article 12) and children's best interest decision-making (Article 3),  David Ruth talk about

  • How domestic violence perpetrators' actions attack children's human rights
  • How a literal interpretation of the "voice of the child" is not enough especially when it comes to the most vulnerable children
  • How many of perpetrator's behaviors of coercive control happen outside a child's view but still impacts them
  • How the Model helps listen deeply and understand children's experience  and assists in best interest decision making in domestic violence cases involving children

Download the paper:

Now available! Mapping the Perpetrator’s Pattern: A Practitioner’s Tool for Improving Assessment, Intervention, and Outcomes The web-based Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool is a virtual practice tool for improving assessment, intervention, and outcomes through a perpetrator pattern-based approach. The tool allows practitioners to apply the Model’s critical concepts and principles to their current case load in real

Check out David Mandel's new book "Stop Blaming Mothers and Ignoring Fathers: How to transform the way we keep children safe from domestic violence."

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