The child’s voice – important context point.

Sir, – Eliciting the opinions and wishes of children – as legally
obliged by the outcome of the children’s referendum – will serve only
to exacerbate the emotional and psychological abuse of children,
particularly in separation, custody and contact disputes.

The overt views of the child may be fear-induced through an emotional
and psychological abuse by one parent in order to reject, denigrate
and make false allegations against a (previously loved) target parent.

The consequences of making children “active players” in the breakdown
of their own familial relationships within the adversarial family law
court system was not considered by those advocating a Yes vote. This
is a very serious matter. Many of these children are already caught in
sensitive and fractious scenarios caused by parental fall-out, etc.
Making them “weapons” within the legal process could have devastating
long-term effects on them: such as a loss of self-esteem, becoming
involved in anti-social behaviours and even suicide.

Minster for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, stated that there is a
strong obligation on the State to protect children. Good! What must
now become a norm is that in giving a child a ‘voice’ that it be
preceded by comprehensive and impartial investigations and assessments
to ensure that the child’s expressed opinions and wishes is his/her
“own”. – Yours, etc,

GERRY NAUGHTON,

Richmond Hill,

Dublin 6