New Research Highlights Effect of Family Violence on Children

November 15, 2017

Children’s voices are crucial in informing father-focused interventions that hold perpetrators of domestic and family violence accountable for their role as a parent.

That’s according to CQUniversity researcher Dr Silke Meyer who was commenting in the lead-up to White Ribbon Day (marked on 25 November to combat violence against women).

Image: article supplied

“Australian research suggests that, by the age of 18, one in four children have been exposed to parental violence,” Dr Meyer says.

“However, use of domestic and family violence is a choice and exposing children to domestic violence is a parenting choice.

“Child safety is increasingly recognising this by developing strategies to move away from the historical mother-blaming approach towards working with families affected by domestic and family violence, and towards an approach that aims to engage fathers and hold them accountable, especially towards their children.”

Dr Meyer says research and practitioner accounts have revealed for decades that many children are involved in domestic and family violence way beyond their level of maturity.

“They intervene, they mediate, they try to protect the non-abusive parent, they take on carer roles for younger children; in some cases they are forced to side with the abusive parent and are threatened and intimidated into being abusive themselves,” she says.

“However, they get very little say in what they need and what ‘repairs’ they expect in order to recover from the trauma, rebuild meaningful relationships and engage especially with the abusive parent on their own terms.”

Dr Meyer says that, previously, children were seen as secondary victims whose needs could be addressed by responding to parents (e.g. by supporting the non-abusive parent and/or arresting/removing the abusive one).

This was originally published by Westender.

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