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Entries in sexism (1)


Research on raw deal for fathers starts up a heated debate

Nick SmithersNick Smithers found himself in the midst of a media storm last Tuesday when his report on how fathers are treated by the Social Work profession caused a front-page headline "Sexism stops fathers from seeing children" in the Herald newspaper.

Nick, who is a father's worker with the family support charity Circle, undertook the research though a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship with Edinburgh University Social Work Department.

He talked to eight fathers about their experiences of child protection processes when their children were placed in foster care or on the child protection register.  These fathers talked about expressing concern for their children who were in the care of partners suffering from drug or alcohol problems.  Some had faced malicious allegations of child abuse and were themselves suffering from domestic violence.

They all felt they hadn't been listened to and had sometims been prevented from seeing their children when they expressed concerns.

One father criticised what he felt is the standard social work approach: “I think if there’s a family breakdown they should get rid of the old school ‘better with the mum’. There should be a meeting where everyone’s involved and look at everything over time then say the kids are better off with X instead of the ‘since the beginning of time kids are better off with their mum.’

The report suggests that training of professionals involved in child protection should be improved  and social workers held to account to ensure that they do not marginalise or fail to include fathers.  It stresses the importance of organisations that will listen to fathers.

The heated debate continues on the letters page of the Herald.  While the headlines may have been a bit over the top, the content of this report certainly deserves to be debated fully.