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The BBC's Carole Walker
"MP's involved in the project want a change in the law"
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Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 05:14 GMT 06:14 UK
Call for violent parent access ban
Children
Kids suffer domestic violence even when parents split
A cross-party group of MPs is calling for a change in the law which could prevent violent parents from broken marriages having access to their children.

In a report, the all-party group on domestic violence says the law must be changed to ensure the courts take account of any evidence of domestic abuse before they allow contact.

The recommendation follows the first ever parliamentary consultation on the internet, in which more than 1,000 women told of their experiences of domestic violence.


Margaret Moran
Margaret Moran asked victims for their experiences
Many of them said that contact orders, giving fathers from broken homes access to their children, had led to more violence against them and the children themselves.

Margaret Moran, the Labour MP who chairs the group, says the law must be changed to ensure this does not happen.

But the pressure group Families Need Fathers say any such change would unfairly prevent many men from seeing their children and the law is already stacked against them.

The report challenges the presumption that it is always in the interests of children to have contact with their parents.

Women's rights campaigners have been concerned that current thinking on what is in the child's best interest swings too much in favour of maintaining contact with both parents, even if there is a history of domestic violence.

'High risk'

A study published by Woman's Aid last November concluded that children forced to maintain contact with violent parents run a high risk of being abused or harmed.

Conducted by Dr Lorraine Radford of the Roehampton Institute in London, the study of 148 children with a parent who have suffered domestic violence found up to 62% suffered emotional harm as a result.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has also expressed concerned about enforced contact between children and violent parents.

The government will consider the findings of the report, but is unlikely to act quickly on such a controversial matter, says BBC political correspondent Carole Walker.

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See also:

19 Nov 99 | Health
Abuse linked to contact orders
08 Mar 00 | UK
Crackdown on wife-beaters
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