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Safety Conferencing: Toward a Coordinated and Inclusive Response to Safeguard Women and Children.

Pennell, Joan
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Violence Against Women. 11(5): 666-692.

As an extension of the child welfare model of family group conferencing, this article presents the views of domestic violence survivors, staff, and supporters on how to develop and implement safety conferencing; a coordinated and inclusive response to safeguard battered women and children. This coordinated and inclusive response lays a conceptual foundation for a decisionmaking forum and sets forth guidance for its practice. The article begins with a review of contradictions in feminist analyses of domestic violence, the elevation by the battered women’s movement of women’s choices over family connections, and the ensuing conflict between domestic violence and child welfare (the safety of the children). Family group conferencing is then described as a model that serves as the platform from which to construct safety conferencing. An overview is presented on the participatory approach utilized for defining safety conferencing, as well as a discussion on the practice guidance provided by women who are abused and shelter staff. The article concludes with an agenda for advancing a coordinated and inclusive response that integrates informal and formal networks to safeguard women and children. Safety conferencing is a way to displace assumptions and to build the individual and collective strength to reshape connections, make sound choices, and promote the safety of women and children from diverse cultures. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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