I’ve never been short of an opinion or two. Sometimes I change my mind and change my opinion. I think it’s important to talk about stuff to test out whether your opinion meets that test.
I’ve got some opinions about how difficult we find it to talk about domestic violence with any sense of balance or nuance. I’ve written about some of the problems I have with that before (see here for example), and as it happens the focus of much of what I’ve written on the topic has been on Women’s Aid campaigns as they are the most visible of a number of bodies in the field. I’ve never had so much as a whiff of feedback on those posts from Womens’ Aid, not even to politely disagree. I think that’s a shame. I don’t want a dust up, I just want a conversation. I think Women’s Aid have important stuff to say, and I worry that they sometimes damage their message in the way that they articulate it sometimes.
And then recently I was invited to a face to face event on the topic at which Women’s Aid were talking. Having whinged a lot on the interweb, and having complained about the lack of dialogue, I thought I owed it to the debate to go. So I did, with my Transparency Project hat on. It was a really informative, thought provoking event. I wrote it up here, on The Transparency Project website:
We specifically invited a response from Women’s Aid to the questions I posed about the evidence base upon which Women’s Aid base some serious allegations about the Family Courts, AND from CAFCASS, whose principal social worker said some very surprising things about the role of CAFCASS, which sounded very much as if CAFCASS Officers may be being told that it’s fine to step into the Judge’s shoes and decide whether allegations of violence are true (you can see the detail of the exchanges about that in the post I’ve linked to above). I’m willing to bet this goes against everything many of my colleagues in the legal and social work professions had understood about the basics of how children proceedings work (not to mention the laws of evidence), so I think we deserve an explanation of why we’ve been doing it wrong for all these years if that is the case. Or CAFCASS need to reflect on how they’ve got their messages so mixed up.
I have to say I’m baffled at the silence so far. I really hope that we get a response. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not – but isn’t this stuff really really important? Why can’t we talk about it like grown ups? We complain that parents can’t communicate, but I’m not sure we professionals are much better sometimes.
Feature Pic : courtesy of by Salim Virji on flickr – thanks!