Protecting Children from Domestic Violence: Strategies for Community Intervention

By Black, Tara L.; Trocmé, Nico | Canadian Psychology, August 2005 | Go to article overview

Protecting Children from Domestic Violence: Strategies for Community Intervention


Black, Tara L., Trocmé, Nico, Canadian Psychology


PETER J. JAFFE, LINDA L. BAKER, and ALISON J. CUNNINGHAM (Eds.) Protecting (.Children from Domestic Violence: Strategies for Community Intervention New York: Guilford Press, 2004, 243 pages (ISBN 1-57230-992-X, US$35.00 Hardcover)

Concern about the effects ol domestic violence on children has become one of the leading reasons for intervention by child welfare authorities and police across Canada. Over 21,000 cases of exposure to domestic violence were reported in 1998 to child welfare authorities across Canada, 15% percent of all reports of child maltreatment (Trocmé et al., 2001; Table 3.8). In Ontario alone, the number of reports increased nine fold between 1993 and 1998 (Trocmé, Fallon, MacLaurin, & Copp, 2002), and preliminary findings from the 2003 Canadian Incidence Study indicate that exposure to domestic violence continues Io expand across the country. While professionals working with battered women have become keenly aware of the potential harm to the children involved, we are far less clear about how to respond to these situations in a supportive and effective manner. Peter Jaffe, Linda Baker, and Alison Cunningham's new edited book, Protecting Children from Domestic Violence: Strategies for Community Intervention, provides the most up-to-date information about how best to respond.

The book emerged from the International Conference on Children Exposed to Domestic Violence that was held in London, Ontario in 2001. It begins with an excellent chapter by Jeffrey Edleson synthesi/ing the literature on the impact of exposure to domestic violence on children, stressing the interplay between risk and protective factors. While recognizing (lie critical role dial child welfare authorities can play in responding to these situations, Edlcson cautions that exposure should not automatically be defined as child maltreatment. Hc recommends that wherever possible children exposed to domestic violence and their families should he referred voluntarily Io community services, and that a broader range of differential assessments and services be developed in those cases where child welfare authorities become involved. Edleson's chapter is followed by two papers examining emerging assessments and treatment programs. B. B. Robbie Rossman and colleagues describe assessments, including measurement tools, and interventions lor young children exposed to domestic violence, stressing (he need to involve mothers. Diane Davis describes a treatment program lor abusive male adolescents, which is grounded in cognitive-behavioural, social learning, feminist, developmental, and trauma theory.

The second section of the book addresses current thinking about individual and group intervention approaches. Chapter 5 by Sandra Graham-Bermann and Hilda Halabu discusses how to make intervention programs culturally relevant. They point, for example, to the importance of delivering public broadcast messages about domestic violence in different languages and involving community leaders in helping to challenge views that may minimi/.e the scope of the problem. Chapter 6 by Jennifer Hardesty and Jacquelyn Campbell describes safety planning strategies with respect to both women and children. Chapter 7 by Lundy Bancroft and Jay Silvennan explores tools for assessing risks that the offending parent poses to the nonoffending parent and their child(ren). Finally, Chapter 8 by Oliver Williams and his colleagues discusses the importance of the father's role in the lives of their children and how (his is often ignored.

The third section of the book examines broader system level responses. In Chapter 9, Melpa Kamateros discusses the challenges of increasing public awareness in a culturally diverse environment, describing in particular an outreach service for ethnic communitie: in Montreal. Chapters 10 through 12 examine responses from the courts and the police. Martha Shaffer and Nicholas Bala's analysis of changes in family law in Canada provides a number of powerful examples of the challenges inherent in shifting public and legal attitudes towards woman abuse. …

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