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Working with men
A common theme in serious case reviews is that in many assessments the men that are in the household are missed, either through not wanting to engage or not being there when the professionals visit. This page looks at how we can engage with men when completing assessments and in ongoing work.
Serious case reviews repeatedly find that although men around a child who died had posed a risk, this had not been identified or acted upon; and that men who could have been a resource often had information which agencies would have found helpful in understanding the child's situation, if only they had been in touch or had been listened to
Brandon (2011) It's crucial we fully understand the full family dynamic. Men play a significant role in children's lives, but very often they have not been seen.
- Always ask about who is living in the home, visiting regularly or staying over.
- Recognise that people may not be honest for fear of losing benefits, being judged, concealing risk, or other reasons. Don't take information at face value - look to corroborate with other agencies, family members and the children.
- Genograms (family trees) are really powerful tools for drawing out who is in the family and the relationships between people.
- Work flexibly - if someone is working then when can you see them, how can you make it possible.
- Reflect on how you feel. Some men can make people feel threatened, scared or fearful. Look for markers in your practice that indicate you may be feeling uncomfortable. Seek support in reflecting on this, keeping yourself safe and in keeping your practice focused on the child. Research by the NSPCC (2014) into the effectiveness of one of its programmes ( Caring Dads: Safer Children ) which works specifically with domestically abusive fathers found:
- Generally, fathers found being a parent less stressful after they had attended the programme and interacted better with their children.
- A quarter of the fathers found their parenting role extremely stressful before they began the programme. Most of this group experienced normal levels of stress by the time they had completed the programme.
- Over a quarter of mothers had symptoms of depression at the beginning of the programme, but depression and anxiety among mothers had reduced by the end of the programme.
- Most mothers said that fathers' abuse towards them reduced during the programme. Fathers believed that their behaviour towards their children and partners improved across a number of areas.
- Mothers reported that there were fewer incidents of the father using emotional abuse, isolation, violence, injury or using children to abuse her by the end of the programme. Although referring specifically to their programme, this illustrates that work can be completed with abusive fathers to reduce the risks that they pose.
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