Petition for a national Safe Child Act by Barry Goldstein
Purpose: Improve the Safety of Children involved in Child Custody Cases
Conclusion As I discussed last month in my article about legislative proposals, there are other ideas and provisions that could be added to the reforms and some of the ideas in this proposal could be removed if necessary to gain approval. I believe that as long as safety of children is effectively treated as the first priority, this will create the fundamental reforms necessary to alter the frequency of outcomes that place children in jeopardy. It is critical that safety be defined to include not only physical abuse, but also situations that place children at risk. Also critical is the definition of domestic violence both to help courts recognize the coercive and controlling behaviors abusers use and to avoid the mistakes where victims are accused of domestic violence if they strike out in self-defense or frustration. The heart of the proposal is the requirement that professionals used to provide expertise and advice to the court are knowledgeable about the five subjects required for an understanding of domestic violence.
1. Knowing what behaviors are associated with higher risk of lethality or injury.
2. Domestic violence dynamics
3. The effects of domestic violence on children.
4. Recognizing domestic violence
5. Batterer narratives. With these provisions the courts can stop sending children to live with dangerous abusers. Instead of pressuring mothers to cooperate with their abusers they can be using their power and authority to require him to stop his abuse if he wants to have a relationship with the children.
It is important for legislators and court professionals to understand that children do not need both parents equally. They need the safe parent more than the abusive one and their primary attachment figure more than their other parent. It is certainly high time the courts start making decisions that are truly based on what is really in the best interests of the children.