Child First: Children’s Voices Week
Monday 13th June
Women’s Aid launched the Child First campaign in January. The overriding aim of the campaign is to put the safety of children where it belongs: at the heart all of all decisions being made in the family courts. This simply shouldn’t be a radical request. It is already the job of everyone involved in the family courts to do just this. But as our report Nineteen Child Homicides made painfully clear, this is too often not the case.
This week is Children’s Voices Week for Child First. We want to show why it is so vital that they are heard in family court cases, and why their safety and wellbeing must always be prioritised over an abusive parent’s desire for contact. Put simply, children have rights; parents have responsibilities. Only 1% of contact applications are refused – yet domestic abuse is present in around 70% of all CAFCASS cases. What’s wrong with that picture?
Today, our courageous and determined Child First spokeswoman Claire Throssell will be visiting the school that her sons Jack and Paul attended. Paul would be leaving that school at the end of this term, and moving up to secondary school this September – so his peers are going to say their goodbyes to him and Jack today. A beautiful tree has been planted in their memory, and the children will release balloons carrying their messages to Jack and Paul into the sky.
We are proud that Claire will be blogging for us this week about why children need to be listened to, and how Jack’s voice was never heard in the family courts. Another survivor will write about the devastating impact on the wellbeing of her children of contact with their father – a highly dangerous perpetrator of domestic abuse. And we’ll be uploading pictures that children have drawn about how the family court process and contact with an abusive parent makes them feel to our Instagram account. We also have quotes that children gave to domestic abuse support workers about how they feel about their situation to share on Instagram too.
So, we ask you to please join in with us this week on social media as we #rememberjackandpaul. Look out for our Child First posts. Read the survivor blogs and share them. Check out the Instagram pictures, and share those too. And please keep signing and sharing the Child First petition. The more signatures we have, the more we can do to make sure that no more children die at the hand of an abusive parent thanks to catastrophic decisions made by the family courts.
Let’s remember Jack and Paul, and all the children who have been let down by the family courts. All the children who are being let down by the family courts right now. Let’s keep their voices heard and their memories alive. We must change the family courts for good – for all children, everywhere. Your support will help us reach that goal.