ItemChildLinks Issue 2: Education(Barnardos, 2002) BarnardosWelcome to the summer edition of ChildLinks. As another school year begins, we thought it would be an opportunity to reflect in this issue on the subject of education. The 29th Dail is now formed, bringing with it the appointment of a new Minister for Education and Science Mr Noel Dempsey T.D. In his opening address at the launch of The National Forum on Primary Education: Ending Disadvantage, held in St Patrick's College Drumcondra, The Minister referred to the five workshops being held during the Forum on: 1. Diversity and Difference in Education, 2. Parents and the Wider Community, 3. Models of Best Practice in the Curriculum, 4. Multiple Perspectives on Teaching and Learning & 5. Education and the Arts. The Minister was obviously mindful of the Agreed Programme for Government which highlights the Government’s commitment to helping improve the level and quality of achievement and participation in education. The Minister stated that he accepted educational disadvantage was a complex and multi-faceted matter which called for an imaginative, co-ordinated approach from Government. The Minister also acknowledged that the issues raised at the Conference would advance efforts in relation to two key education targets of the National Anti Poverty Strategy (NAPS) — the reduction of the number of pupils with serious literacy problems and the retention of a greater percentage of pupils to the end of second level education. Only time will tell if these commitments are achieved. It is however the responsibility of all organisations concerned with the welfare, rights and education of children to ensure that these promises remain on the political agenda until they are implemented. We would like to welcome and thank our contributors to this issue. Kathy Synott describes the La Pilar Project, a new venture opening in the Autumn which will focus on working with children with special needs. Noirin Hayes of D.I.T. highlights the development of early childhood care and education in Ireland and the bridging of the gap between these two vital areas. High/Scope practitioner and trainer, Patricia Murphy, introduces us to the High/Scope Preschool Curriculum. Staying with early years, Tracy Costello of St. Nicholas Montessori Society, profiles Maria Montessori and the Montessori method. Liz Leonard, Policy Advisor, Barnardos, continues the debate on educational disadvantage. Barnardos participation in two Potential Early School Leavers Programmes is described by Anne Marie Higgins, of Barnardos Family Support Service in Mulhuddart and we are delighted that the front cover of this issue has been designed by Seamus, age 11, a participant on the programme. We hope you find this issue interesting and thought-provoking, and that you will join us again in the Autumn for the next issue of ChildLinks. ItemChildLinks Issue 3: Domestic Violence(Barnardos, 2002) BarnardosThe theme of this issue of ChildLinks is domestic violence. Domestic violence has been defined as “the use of physical or emotional force or the threat of physical force or sexual violence in close adult relationships. It can also involve emotional abuse; the destruction of property; isolation from friends, family and other potential sources of support; threats to others including children; stalking; and control over access to money, personal items, food, transportation and the telephone.” Barnardos’ experience as a key agency involved in working with children and families, is that domestic violence is widespread in Ireland and is a serious social problem. Barnardos recognises that domestic violence takes many forms and can be perpetrated by various family members, however it is also our experience that the most prevalent form we encounter is perpetrated by males against their female partners. While domestic violence is generally defined as_ violence between adults, children are all too frequently impacted on by domestic violence. There is a close relationship between the abuse of mothers and the abuse of children. In addition, while in recent years there has been greater attention to the effects of physical and sexual abuse of children, there has been less recognition of the impact on them of witnessing domestic violence. It is Barnardos’ view that the failure to recognise and address the effects of family violence on children is a significant gap in our child protection services. There is a clear need to vindicate the rights of children by protecting them from all forms of abuse and their effects. Barnardos would advocate the need for a comprehensive study of family violence in Ireland which would include researching the issue of the killing of children within families. In December 2000, Barnardos published a policy document entitled Responding to Domestic Violence and Its Impact on Women and Children. It is timely that two years later we are devoting this issue of ChildLinks to the same topic. Sharon O'Halloran, Director of the National Network of Women’s Refuges and Support Services focuses on the effects of domestic violence on children and argues that lack of awareness about domestic violence and its consequences is prevalent among childcare and education providers and is one of the reasons why professionals fail to recognise children’s experience of domestic violence. Mary Cleary, representing AMEN, presents a challenging perspective on domestic violence which argues for treating domestic violence as a family issue rather than a gender issue. Denise Charlton, Director of Women’s Aid focuses on the impact of domestic violence on women and children and argues that the best form of child protection is woman protection. She also presents useful guidelines for good practice. OSS Cork is a national pilot project which is a one stop shop for people who are experiencing domestic violence, and Dola Twomey, the Project Co-ordinator presents this model of work as well as findings from their data collection. She argues that in the experience of OSS Cork, it is likely that children outnumber adults as victims of domestic violence. Philip Mortell makes the case for intervention programmes for men who use violence, as well as the need for a joint approach with women’s service providers, in addressing the prevention of domestic violence. In her article, Children and Violence: A Review of Research in the Area of Prevention, Margaret Rogers from Barnardos argues that in spite of legislative, policy making and service developments, victims of domestic violence “often remain isolated, unidentified and unprotected”. Finally, Seasons Greetings to all our readers and we look forward to bringing you both useful and stimulating reading materials through ChildLinks in 2003. ItemChildLinks Issue 1: Parenthood; Changing Roles, New Challanges(Barnardos, 2002) BarnardosThis edition of ChildLinks joins the campaign by exploring aspects of parenting and family life in today’s Ireland. Following the publication of the report of the Commission on the Family, Strengthing Families for Life in 1998 and major structural and policy developments in the childcare sector the focus appears to be again on the family and parenthood. Research confirms that the quality of parenting and the family environment are by far the most important contributors to children’s paths into adulthood. It makes sense, then, to target supports and interventions at parents and families. At the same time, our understanding of the nature of “family” and “parenthood” has changed and broadened from a narrow view of blood relation to one of social role. The expectation of fathers has also changed considerably bringing with it the need for adjustments among parents. Parents are now much less certain about what good parenting is and the ever increasing number of — sometimes contradictory — advice books on the shelves only contribute to this uncertainty. With all these changes and growing expectations many parents report high levels of pressure and stress. These are in many cases added to by the practical difficulties of raising children in Ireland today: lack of quality affordable childcare; poor public services; and unsafe environments. The new Family Support Agency, to be established by statute in the near future will also contribute to the developing policy and service context. Whether the agency will be allowed to play a co-ordinating role remains to be seen.