Addressing partner violence crucial for children

17 April 2013

Greater recognition of the impact of intimate partner violence on children is called for in issues papers just released by a University of Auckland based, family violence research centre.

The first paper examines the connections between child maltreatment, intimate partner violence and parenting, while the second looks at the policy and practice implications of this.

Both papers were researched and published by the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse at The University of Auckland’s School of Population Health, funded by the Families Commission.

“We have reviewed the evidence on the frequency that intimate partner violence and child maltreatment co-occur, and explored some of the ongoing negative impacts of this exposure on children and young people’s health and education, and on their social and economic wellbeing,” says the co-director of the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, Associate Professor Janet Fanslow.

“These include negative outcomes resulting from the disruption of the mother-child relationship and the undermining of women’s health and ability to parent effectively,” she says. “Links between intimate partner violence and poor fathering are also explored.”

“The research shows that children can recover from the adverse effects of exposure to intimate partner violence and can thrive and create safe, stable, abuse-free lives, but are less likely to recover if we don’t actively work to address the effects of violence. More active, interlinked efforts to address these problems are required, ” says Dr Fanslow.

“Specialist services need to be available for children who have been exposed to intimate partner violence,” she says. “Supporting children’s relationships with the non-abusive parent can also transform practice, and help create better outcomes for children.”

“We need adequately resourced services to support children, adult victim/survivors and perpetrators. These services need to work in co-ordinated and collaborative ways, as part of multi-agency response systems, and work from a sophisticated understanding of intimate partner violence,” says Dr Fanslow.

Parenting programmes for fathers who have used violence needed to emphasise the need to end violence against their children’s mothers, she says.

“Making changes to support these practices requires better training about the dynamics of intimate partner violence in key services like child protection and family law, and more sustained efforts to support collaborative multiagency responses within communities,” says Dr Fanslow.

One of the world’s leading authorities on children’s exposure to intimate partner violence, Professor Jeffrey L. Edleson, is coming to New Zealand in June.

Professor Edleson, PhD, is Dean and Professor in the University of California, Berkeley School of Social Welfare. He will be speaking at a one-day conference co-hosted by the Families Commission and the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse on 5 June 2013 in Wellington, Children, child maltreatment and intimate partner violence: Research, policy and practice .

For more information, see

http://www.familiescommission.org.nz/events/2013/family-violence-conference-2013

.