Of the many gaps in practice that have been identified in child protection, few loom larger than working with fathers. As several of the cases already featured in this book have shown, huge challenges surround men perpetrating abuse and how professionals engage with them to identify it and stop it. Brid Featherstone’s important conceptual work on father-hood shows that service user fathers can be categorized in three ways: as resources; as vulnerable; and as risks (Featherstone, 2004, 2009). It is difficult to achieve positive outcomes for children and women without engaging fathers because it means that men are not held accountable for their abuse. Women and children are also disadvantaged when men’s resourcefulness as carers is left undeveloped. Men themselves lose out because they miss the opportunity to develop their parenting abilities and relationships with their children, and their own vulnerability, trauma and suffering risks going unaided. This chapter considers how workers can effectively engage with fathers, assess their safety and, where appropriate, work with them to develop their capacity to be safe, loving carers.
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