Supporting Children’s Safety and Well-being
Every child is unique and each child has their own set of strengths and resources that shape and inform their experiences. When trying to assess how a child is doing, it is important to consider all of their life factors and experiences, including the impact of intimate partner violence and possible child abuse. A key strategy to understanding how a child is doing is to help their parents understand their feelings, behaviors, and experiences at home, at school, and in the community (1).
See Module Two: Childhood Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence, for additional information.
Recognizing that children have a range of experiences is helpful when assessing what a parent or child might need. If we think of all experiences as the same, we miss opportunities for best supporting safety and well-being for each individual child and their parent.
When we work with families, we need to support parents as they support their children. Supporting this process helps parents engage in an ongoing process of assessing risk and supporting safety and well-being.
Strategies for supporting children’s safety
Help parents know how their children are doing.
Support and build upon parenting strengths and skills.
Build from strengths, resilience, support systems, and cultural models.
Strengthen empathetic and supportive connections.
Offer strategies to improve children’s well-being and safety.
Talk to the parents about each others’ parenting.
Take steps necessary to protect children from serious harm.
For many families experiencing intimate partner violence, strong partnerships and plans for supporting safety can help address risks that children face. Depending upon the level of risks, some families will require more intensive intervention.
Some questions to explore
Have the parent’s identified risks to the children’s safety?
How do they perceive and respond to those risks?
How are their children doing? At home? In school? In other relationships? How is their health? Have there been any dramatic changes in their behavior and/or actions?
What actions have been taken and what actions are necessary to protect the children?
Davies, Jill, 2009. Advocacy Beyond Leaving: Helping Battered Women in Contact With Current or Former Partners A Guide for Domestic Violence Advocates.