National and local serious case reviews have repeatedly highlighted failures by professionals to effectively engage fathers or identify men who pose a risk to children.

While this area is varied and complex, experts point to a number of key issues:

  • Emotional responses: Most children’s social workers are female and may have emotional responses to men that are influenced by their childhood and experiences.
  • Personal safety: Social workers may fear men who are hostile or even violent. A recent Community Care survey found many child protection workers feel unprotected, and often undermined, by their employers when trying to deal with hostile parents, which in turn affects their practice.
  • Systemic problems: A lack of good supervision and systems to deal with violent or intimidating service users compounds the problem. There is also a shortage of high quality support programmes for fathers, particularly those who are violent.
  • Gender and masculinity: Social workers often alienate men because they refuse to consider gender and masculinity issues.