ChildLinks Issue 3: Domestic Violence
Barnardos. (2002). ChildLinks Issue 3: Domestic Violence. https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/856
The 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.