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Joint custody isn't always best for children [Letter]

Regarding commentator Ned Holstein's views on shared parenting, victims of domestic violence face enormous hurdles finding long-term safety for themselves and their children ("Joint custody should be the rule, not the exception," Oct. 8).

Court Watch Montgomery found that 70 percent of protective order cases in which judges found abuse, access to the child was not restricted.

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Lawyers know that the best defense for domestic violence or child abuse accusations is aggressively fighting for shared or sole legal and physical custody.

In a society that tends to deny abuse in favor of father involvement, this works pretty well. Various studies say accused or adjudicated batterers get sole or joint custody about up to 80 percent of the time.

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Children suffer long-term cascading negative consequences from abuse or witnessing domestic violence that changes their brains and nervous systems' structure and function. Such changes have serious medical, social and economic consequences for the individual and for society.

Yes, children are our future. But woe unto us all when we decide they are not worth protecting from abuse.

Eileen King, Washington, D.C.

The writer is executive director of Child Justice Inc.

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To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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