Child First? Not Likely!
According to a report written by William Collins, 330 children were culpably killed between 2009 – 2015 (not including suicide). These cases have been subjected to Serious Case Reviews (hereby known as SCR) by the Child Protection Authorities. This in itself is not an issue; we believe all suspicious child deaths should be investigated so the culprit can be brought to justice, but it needs to be clear that it is not only fathers who perpetuate these crimes. In fact, Collins states that ‘more mothers are responsible for the deaths of children than are fathers and other male partners combined’.
When Women’s Aid released a report called ‘Child First: Nineteen Child Homicides’, we were intrigued. Their mission statement appeared noble at first: “The national domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid has today launched a major new campaign, Child First. The campaign calls on the family courts and the Government to put the safety of children back at the heart of all decisions made by the family court judiciary. Child First launches alongside the report, Nineteen Child Homicides. The report tells the stories of the cases of nineteen children, all intentionally killed by a parent who was also a known perpetrator of domestic abuse. These killings were made possible through unsafe child contact arrangements, formal and informal. Over half of these child contact arrangements were ordered through the courts.”
If this was all they had quoted, then we would have fully backed them. We believe that the safety of children should be put at the forefront of all family court decisions. Finally it looked as if both fathers and mothers would get a fair chance at being the parent they deserve to be, rather than fathers automatically being at a disadvantage. However, the opening quote gave the report a damningly biased outlook from the very start:
“No parent should have to hold their children and comfort them as they die.” – Claire Throssell, mother to Jack and Paul, both killed in 2014 by their father.
As we read on we found that, unsurprisingly, Women’s Aid had created a completely biased report. Collins argues, and provides solid evidence to back it up, that it is not only biased but is ‘staggeringly dishonest’. This report can change the future for children everywhere and is picking up steam – Women’s Aid appeared in the House of Commons on Thursday 15th September regarding their Child First campaign – so it needs to be accurate, clear and concise. We are not implying that deaths at the hands of fathers do not occur, we are also not so naive as to say that women and children haven’t been abused at the hands of fathers – BUT – it works both ways. In fact, as shown below, it is more commonly the mother/female partner.
As part of their report, Women’s Aid meticulously searched through 12 years of SCR data using the following criteria:
1. A child had been killed.
2. The perpetrator was the child’s parent and had perpetrated domestic abuse against the other parent.
3. The parents were separated and child contact had been arranged informally or formally. For this blog we will ignore the fact that, as Collins states in his report, it hardly seems fair to judge family courts on ‘informal’ arrangements that have not been arranged through them. Using the criteria above, Women’s Aid narrowed the findings significantly to just 12 cases. Although they stated that they ‘did not apply any exclusion criteria regarding the gender of the perpetrator of domestic abuse’, not surprisingly, all cases showed the male as the aggressor. I say unsurprising not because I expect it to be this way but that I knew Women’s Aid wouldn’t want to supply any information that showed women to be the destructive party. A truth evidenced by their exclusion of the Samira Lupidi case in their publication of Nineteen Child Homicides. Samira Lupidi was separating from her partner and had sought refuge at one of Women’s Aid's homes. Whilst in the refuge, she stabbed her two daughters to death. Nor do they mention the two homicides Collins found where mothers have killed their children while they were on ‘contact’ visits. Everything presented in the sickeningly biased report is gender biased which is not only unfair but very dangerous for the future of fathers everywhere. As part of his compelling evidence (compelling for us, damning for Women’s Aid), Collins presented a table showing the Summary of Statistics Obtained from Serious Case Reviews of Child Deaths. This summary reports number of deaths, whether SCR were involved and the perpetrator, amongst other things. As you can see in the highlighted area below, in nearly all cases the mother is the perpetrator more than the father.
You could argue that the statistic is higher because mothers get custody of their children primarily but, with figures like this showing the significant difference in the cause of children’s deaths, maybe the courts should reassess the way in which they decide who wins custody battles.
Within Collins' extensive report, he shows seven different cases (including Samira Lupidi) where a child has been killed either while on contact with their mother or after the father has been subject to a non molestation order or criminal accusation. Yet Women’s Aid reportedly couldn’t find a single one? Perhaps they need better researchers. Another important statistic to note is that, throughout his research, Collins could not find a single case where the murdered child had been living full time with the father or male carer. This is quite a significant contrast to the 61 identified single mothers who have been responsible for 67 child deaths.
After reading the full report, including the damning conclusion, I have to agree with Collins. It appears that Women’s Aid are using the much needed review into family courts as a smoke screen to make it even harder for fathers to be given contact with their children. You expect a slight amount of bias from an organisation designed to protect women, as you would any organisation, but to use such a sensitive subject as nothing more than a smoke screen is abhorrent. It’s a shame really. They managed to secure the first ever parliamentary debate regarding unsafe and unjust child contact orders – and floundered it on their one sided agenda.