On child abuse and the court, the Air Force's $35 billion tanker, Massachusetts healthcare, and the Berlin Wall.
On child abuse and the court
Thank you for publishing, "Child abuse: when family courts get it wrong," in the Oct. 11 issue. For years, distraught mothers who complained about unfair custody decisions were dismissed as "disgruntled litigants." The up-to-date research has now established that custody courts are failing to protect battered mothers and their children because they are using outdated and discredited practices.
When domestic violence first became a public issue in the mid to late 1970s, professionals involved with such cases developed practices without the benefit of useful research.
Police departments, for instance, had a standard approach of having the alleged abuser walk around the block to cool off before returning to the house. This practice was changed after research demonstrated that when a man killed his partner, the vast majority of the time the police had already been called to the house and used this approach, and often, police had gone to the home already up to five times.
As police developed a policy of arresting abusers and attempting to hold them accountable, the domestic violence homicide rate went down. It is time we reform the system so that the safety and well-being of children and domestic-violence victims becomes the first priority.
I was heartened to see the opinion essay bring attention to the serious problem of family courts getting it wrong in child abuse cases.
Far too many children end up being ordered by the court to live with their abuser. When the protective parent seeks help from the court, the abuser files for custody and claims that the child's statements are false allegations made by a vindictive parent, and the facts get turned on their head.
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