First Irish Study to Interview Children Directly on Domestic Violence is launched
Posted on: 26 January 2006
Poor School Performance, Low Self Esteem and Risky Behaviour are Effects Suffered by Children who Experience Domestic Violence – TCD report
Ireland’s first study in which the views of children were directly sought on their experience of domestic violence was launched by the Minister for Children, Brian Lenihan today (Thursday 26 January). The report Listen to me! was completed by the Children’s Research Centre in Trinity College Dublin.
Results of the study demonstrate that children living with domestic violence are all negatively affected by it in some way and require compensatory interventions. The impact can vary according to children’s ages and personalities but in general, the data showed that they suffer significant emotional effects, such as fear and anxiety, insecurity, impaired concentration and a sense of being ‘different’. These are manifested in different ways, including poor school performance, difficulty in making friends, low self esteem, a tendency to being bullied and, in older children, challenging and risky behaviour. The impact of having lived with domestic violence can endure for several years after the children have moved out of the violent situation and can continue to negatively affect their lives and their potential.
Research for the report was carried out with the Mayo Women’s Support Services. Data for the study was collected from children and mothers who had experienced domestic violence as well as professionals and volunteers working in child and youth services, with a total of 18 focus groups conducted for the study.
The study highlighted that children in domestic violence situations require a range of services, including counselling and psychological interventions at individual and group levels, extra educational help and community based interventions aimed at assisting their normal development as young people. While some of the services currently exist, long waiting lists for therapeutic services and lack of awareness about the effect of domestic violence amongst some professional groups such as teachers means that these children are not getting what they need when they need it.
The report recommends the establishment of a specific service for children and young people who have experienced domestic violence. Such a service should have the dual aim of assessing and responding to the children’s needs in whatever way is most appropriate and also the development an early intervention approach which will raise awareness and provide training, particularly with teachers and Gardaí about the nature of the problem, its likely effects and links with appropriate services.