Child Abuse Services. Through the Eyes of a Child AGENDA. Domestic Violence and Children. Effects on Children. Lori Watson-Roe MSW RSW

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1 Through the Eyes of a Child Child Development Centre Did I do something wrong, to make you lose control? Anger so strong, or do you even know? That when you come home, I want to run and hide The pain is so deep that I keep it inside. I m not the same because of you. Always afraid of what you ll do If only you could see yourself through my eyes You d know why (I m dying inside) Sometimes I need a firm, but gentle hand Someone who cares and understands That I am still learning but I just can t take this abuse, from you, there is no excuse I m not the same because of you Always afraid of what you ll do If only you could see yourself through my eyes You d know why (I m dying inside) This is no way to live If you try to change I ll try to forgive Child Abuse Services Lori Watson-Roe MSW RSW From: CHANCE Changing How Adults Nurture Children s Egos 1 2 AGENDA 1. Domestic Violence and Children 2. Mandatory Reporting and Handling a disclosure 3. Role of Child and Family Services what to expect Domestic Violence and Children Domestic violence is the use of physical force, or threat of force, against a current or former partner in an intimate relationship, resulting in fear and emotional and/or physical suffering. Domestic violence can also include sexual abuse, emotional abuse and financial abuse. It is estimated that one in four women are assaulted by a partner or ex-partner in their lifetime. Domestic violence affects every member of the family, including the children. It creates a home environment where children live in constant fear. Studies show that child abuse occurs in 30-60% of family violence cases that involve families with children. 3 4 Effects on Children Children who witness domestic violence are affected in ways similar to children who are physically abused. They are at a greater risk for abuse and neglect if they live in a violent home. Children exposed to family violence are more likely to develop social, emotional, psychological and/or behavioral problems than those who are not. Some children show no negative impact from witnessing domestic violence. Exposure to domestic violence affects child development in a range of ways. Factors that affect how a child responds include: proximity, age, severity, frequency and availability of emotional support from another adult who will protect them

2 Behavioural Presentations More aggressive/more passive Behavior problems at school Acting out or withdrawing Parentified or overly mature behavior Rigid Defenses Excessive attention seeking Lying to avoid confrontation Out of control behavior Hypersensitivity to sound, movement Bedwetting and nightmares Intellectual and Academic Performance Inability to concentrate Difficulty with schoolwork Lower verbal, motor and cognitive skills Reduced intellectual competency Incomplete work assignments 7 8 Social Development Isolation from friends and relatives Stormy relationships Lower levels of problem-solving skills Difficulty trusting, especially adults Poor anger management Passivity with peers Bullying Lack of empathy for others Emotional and Physical Numerous somatic complaints Nervous, anxious, short attention span Tired, lethargic and frequently ill Poor personal hygiene Regressed behaviors or high risk play Shame, guilt and self blame Fears of abandonment Anger Depression and feelings of helplessness Confusion about conflicting feelings towards their parents Age and Gender Effects of domestic violence on children vary by age and gender. Infants: have separation anxiety, sleep problems, irritability, disrupted routines, frequent illness, developmental delays and inconsolable crying. Preschool/Toddlers: may feel responsible for the violence, reluctance to leave their mothers, fear of being alone, regression, delays, separation anxiety. Elementary Age: emotional problems, guilt, eager to please/hostile, developmental delays, externalized behavior problems, poor social skills. Boys may learn that violence is an appropriate way to resolve conflict. They are often disruptive and act aggressively towards people, pets and objects. Girls may learn that victimization is inevitable. They are likely to be withdrawn, passive and cling to their mother

3 Violence is Learned Adolescents: behavior problems become more serious increased internalized behaviour difficulties like depression, anxiety and isolation. Emotional difficulties shame, fear, confusion and rage. May engage in delinquent behavior. May be torn between running away and a need to protect. Boys may become more abusive in their dating relationships or may model their abusive parent s behavior towards their mother or sisters. Girls may accept threats and violence from their boyfriends. Children who grow up in violent homes may learn that violence is an effective tool of control over others. Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to become abusive partners or victims of abuse in adulthood. 70% of adolescents who grew up in homes with domestic violence reported involvement in violent delinquent behavior compared with 49% of teens who grew up in non-violent homes Connection to Child Abuse 50-70% of children exposed to domestic violence are also victims of child abuse. Perpetrators often intentionally injure or threaten to injure children as a means of intimidating their partner. Children in domestic violent households are at increased risk for sexual abuse. Older children are often injured when they attempt to intervene. Mothers who are battered are more likely to physically abuse their children than mothers who are not battered. Children who live in homes with domestic violence are more likely to be neglected because the victim s ability to play a role in the child s life is compromised. Reporting Domestic Violence Medical professionals have an obligation to report directly to child welfare if they are aware that children are living in a home where domestic violence is reported. They are not relieved of their obligations if they only tell their superiors. Legislation is binding on the person directly involved with the family or child and not on individuals subsequently told Reporting Domestic Violence The safety and well-being of a child and victim is paramount. It is the responsibility of the medical professional to act on their behalf. Existing reporting protocols in each system should be consulted. Reporting DV When in doubt, adults should err on the side of protecting the child. While one may struggle with feelings of doubt and guilt, doing nothing risks a child s safety. It is not your role to determine if the children in that home are safe

4 Reporting DV Medical professionals may be worried they will be sued for making a report when the allegations cannot be substantiated. The Child Welfare Act protects callers from liability unless a malicious action has occurred. Reporting DV While confidentiality is ensured by the Child Welfare system, it cannot be guaranteed if a case goes to court. The judge will decide what information is released Reporting Child Abuse Early reporting of child abuse cases is always encouraged. In situations where the abuse is suspected to have occurred within the family, contact local child welfare authorities to make the report. SSRT If police are required, child welfare will notify them. Reporting Protection Concerns When making a report, the following information is important: name and birthdate of child name and ages of parents, guardians and alleged offenders address and phone numbers school and daycare information details of the alleged incident(s) assessment of immediate risk to child Dealing with the Disclosure of Child Abuse Dealing with the Disclosure of Child Abuse It is important that the health professional reflect on personal feelings about domestic violence and child abuse, the fairness of the investigation or justice system before a real situation presents itself. Know your own beliefs and values so that you can manage your response and seek support when necessary. It is important that the health professional reflect on personal feelings about child abuse, the fairness of the investigation or justice system before a real situation presents itself

5 Child Protection Response Many professionals and families have a skewed view of Child and Family Services and their role. Child protection workers are there to protect children, not to take them from families. Their role is to speak with the parents, children and sometimes professionals to determine if there is any risk to the children in that home. Child and Family Services operates under legislation that enforces the least intrusive form of intervention. 25 Collaboration Child and Family Services work to provide a safe environment for a child- they receive training to identify domestic violence, assess the risk to the child and develop a safety plan that includes both the victim and the child(ren) when the mother has not been abusive. Collaboration between CFSA and the community is important to create safe and effective responses to cases that involve domestic violence. 26 What Happens Next? Once a report has been made to CFSA it is reviewed to determine if there is reason to believe a child is at risk in the home. NO a file is created and the information is documented but no action is taken. YES the file is assigned to an investigator who will arrange to interview the family. 27 What Next cont d Once a case has been assigned, the worker or team leader determines how quickly to respond level of risk. Often the worker will go to the child s school/daycare to interview them without warning this is to ensure the child is not threatened or coached by a parent. The worker will then contact the parent and meet with them to assess the concern and risk in the family. It is from those initial meetings the worker will assess the need for intervention and supports they may be able to offer. 28 CFSA is Not the Enemy The last course of action CFSA will take is to apprehend children they will only do so if they believe the child(ren) are in imminent danger and must prove it in court. They are a great resource to families. CFSA can assist families in getting into shelters, accessing resources and developing safety plans. 29 5

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