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Failure-to-protect policies and practices are intended to better ensure the safety and protection of children. But as this book demonstrates, these policies actually increase danger for children – and for their mothers. While failure to protect is not always encoded in policy documents, practices that engage mothers and hold them responsible for violence in the home, while excusing or ignoring the male offender, are common. Moreover, these actions most often play out on the shoulders of marginalized and already oppressed women and, in a cruel twist, place blame on mothers because they are “unable” to protect their children from factors beyond their control, such as poverty, racism, intimate partner violence and inadequate housing.
In this book, writers from Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia explain how the concept of failure to protect emerged and how it differentially impacts child welfare clients by virtue of their gender, race and class positions. Chapters dedicated to child sexual abuse and intimate partner abuse, for example, illustrate just how ineffective failure-to-protect policies are at protecting both women and children. Beyond a critique of child protection systems, the book proposes innovative and effective alternatives to policies and practices informed by failure to protect. This edited collection compels us to think critically about knowledge that is taken for granted and opens up possibilities for practices that are not only grounded in social justice but fulfill the mandate of child welfare to effectively protect children.