Why listen?

Domestic homicide disrupts all aspects of children and young people’s lives. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations, 1989) stipulates that children and young people have the right to express their views freely in all matters of their lives, and for their views to be considered in decisions that affect them.

Listening to children and young people involves paying attention to what they tell us but also what they express in non-verbal ways. Also, listening to children and young people’s voices may require practitioners, family and friends to take the first step and invite them to share with them what are their views and experiences. This can be a difficult thing to do, and practitioners are rightfully concerned about making sure that children are feeling safe when sharing their experiences.

Research and practical experience show that children and young people’s voices are currently not always heard in the context of domestic violence and domestic homicide. It makes us wonder:

  • How can we create more opportunities for children and young people to participate in decisions that shape their lives?
  • When we do, are they truly free to express themselves? Or are they experiencing pressure from their families, services or society in general?
  • What are our own feelings and assumptions about children and young people bereaved by domestic homicide, and how do these affect how we communicate with them?

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