When there is silence

In the past two decades, probably about 1,000 Australian children and young people have lost a parent due to domestic homicide.

In the aftermath, police, family courts, child protection, family members and others make far-reaching decisions about children and young people’s futures.

Living arrangements and arrangements for contact with family members are examples of these decisions. And explicitly or implicitly, decisions are made on how to talk about the deceased parent and what happened.

Listening to children and young people may require practitioners, family and friends to take the first step and actively invite them to share their views and experiences (and often listening also involves observing non-verbal expressions).

This actively inviting can be a difficult thing to do, and practitioners are rightfully focused on making sure that children are feeling safe and comfortable when sharing their experiences.

Over time, children and young people’s perspectives may evolve, also in connection to their context.

Questions for reflection:

  • How can we create more opportunities for children and young people to participate in decisions that shape their life?
  • To what extent are they experiencing pressure from family, services or society in general? How can we reduce that pressure?

Next section: Grief, loss and trauma

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