Prevention: a new approach to domestic violence.The criminal justice system's response to domestic violence has evolved dramatically during the past two decades. Historically, when responding to domestic dispute calls, law enforcement officers could do little more than separate spouses and wait for tempers to cool.
By the mid-1980s, changing social standards led to more vigorous enforcement policies. In Massachusetts, as in many States, these policies resulted in mandatory arrest statutes,(1) domestic violence firearm-confiscation statutes,(2) restraining order restraining order: see injunction. registries,(3) and enhanced penalties for convicted batterers.(4)
These measures constitute an important step forward in addressing one of the most recurrent problems that confronts law enforcement. However, these policies share a characteristic that limits their effectiveness in actually curtailing domestic violence. As reactive measures, they can be used only after an incident occurs. Thus, the progressive policies adopted in recent years have done little to prevent new cases of abuse or to reduce the number of domestic violence calls handled by the police.
Prevention as a Goal
Law enforcement officials often become frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: when, in the wake of a domestic violence-related homicide homicide (hŏm`əsīd), in law, the taking of human life. Homicides that are neither justifiable nor excusable are considered crimes. A criminal homicide committed with malice is known as murder, otherwise it is called manslaughter. , media headlines proclaim pro·claim
tr.v. pro·claimed, pro·claim·ing, pro·claims
1. To announce officially and publicly; declare. See Synonyms at announce.
2. , "The System Fails Again." It is difficult to accept such criticism when the criminal justice system mainly responds after a crisis has occurred. While a crisis intervention crisis intervention Psychiatry The counseling of a person suffering from a stressful life event–eg, AIDS, cancer, death, divorce, by providing mental and moral support. See Hotline. stance appropriately takes as its first priority the safety of victims, such an approach risks ignoring the importance of primary prevention.(5)
In 1991, the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council(6) and the Framingham Police Department joined with local educators and victim advocates to create a proactive program that addresses the root causes of domestic violence. The Violence Prevention Program stresses prevention rather than reaction. It has emerged as a unique method to address critical risk factors, such as gender-role stereotypes and sexism sex·ism
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender. , that lead to domestic violence.
The Violence Prevention Program
The Violence Prevention Program educates young people about domestic violence and provides them with skills to help them avoid destructive behavior. The program targets students in the seventh and eighth grades.
Staff members of a local nonprofit A corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive.
Nonprofits are also called not-for-profit corporations. Nonprofit corporations are created according to state law. shelter for battered bat·ter 1
v. bat·tered, bat·ter·ing, bat·ters
1. To hit heavily and repeatedly with violent blows.
2. To subject to repeated beatings or physical abuse.
3. women(7) structured the curriculum in five 1-hour blocks that can be delivered in health classes as part of the regular school curriculum. The program is intended to be taught by two-member teams made up of a police officer and an educator. The ideal team consists of a male teacher and a female officer, the reverse of the common stereotype stereotype (stĕr`ĕətīp'), plate from which printing is done, made by casting metal in a mold, usually of paper pulp. The process was patented in 1725 by the Scottish inventor William Ged. . Together, they can model respectful re·spect·ful
Showing or marked by proper respect.
re·spectful·ly adv. behavior and effectively deal with the issue of gender-role stereotyping.
Police administrators choose officers for the program based on their demonstrated sensitivity to the issues of domestic violence, as well as for their field experience, performance in training and role-playing, and teaching ability. The immediate goal of the program is to give the officers and educators a visible, proactive role in preventing violence. The ultimate goal is to reduce violence in intimate relationships An intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship. It is a relationship in which the participants know or trust one another very well or are confidants of one another, or a relationship in which there is physical or emotional intimacy. .
Training the Trainers
Before the officers and educators begin to teach the program, they receive special instruction on the subject of domestic violence. A 3-day, train-the-trainer course focuses on the dynamics of domestic violence. Professional counselors in the areas of teen dating violence Dating Violence is defined as the perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship. and battering conduct the training sessions. Funds from a State grant cover the fees for the counselors.
On the first day of instructor training, the participants learn about cycles of violence and examine questions such as "Why do men batter?" and "What makes women remain in abusive Tending to deceive; practicing abuse; prone to ill-treat by coarse, insulting words or harmful acts. Using ill treatment; injurious, improper, hurtful, offensive, reproachful. relationships?" The second day of instruction focuses on program curriculum. Participants go through the exercises, such as formulating definitions for abuse and respect and listing the attributes of respectful men and women. On the third day, the officers and teachers deliver the curriculum through role-playing.
In addition, training counselors often arrange for a presentation by a victim or a batterer Bat´ter`er
n. 1. One who, or that which, batters. to give the teaching pairs an opportunity to understand better the mindset mind·set or mind-set
1. A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.
2. An inclination or a habit. of victims and batterers. Guest lecturers drawn from a regional pool of medical and domestic violence experts also may be called on to share their insights with the participants. Near the conclusion of the course, the counselors discuss what steps officers and educators should take if they receive reports of domestic violence from the students.
At the conclusion of the course, each pair of trainers returns to their middle school in one of the 30 school districts throughout the Commonwealth that participate in the program. To limit the financial impact of the program on local communities, the teaching pairs present the program in their school districts as part of their regular assignments.
Teaching the Curriculum
The curriculum divides the five components of the program into different sessions. The teaching pairs present the components in 1-hour classes generally delivered on five consecutive days.
In the first session, the teaching pair asks the students to brainstorm examples of abusive and respectful behavior. Students learn that abuse can be mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, or physical. The session exposes students to different ideas about what constitutes abuse and respect in the minds of both men and women. The instructors' primary focus is to show that abuse and respect must be defined by the person targeted by the behavior.
In the second session, instructors use commercial advertisements and class discussion to explore the link between stereotypes and violence. The teaching pair divides the students by sex and asks them to create a list of attributes associated with being a mature man or woman. The students discuss how men and women should resolve conflicts and interact with one another. The instructors then use the advertisements to demonstrate the prevalence of stereotyping both in the media and society. They explain that such stereotyping can lead to an imbalance of power in relationships, which can breed violence and abuse.
In the third session, the instructors sensitize sen·si·tize
To make hypersensitive or reactive to an antigen, such as pollen, especially by repeated exposure. students lo the warning signs of domestic violence. They attempt to dispel some of the myths about who batters BATTeRS (バッターズ) stands for Bisei Asteroid Tracking Telescope for Rapid Survey. It is a Japanese project to find asteroids.
It is associated with the Japanese Spaceguard Association. Members include Takeshi Urata. and who might be victimized by abuse. At this point, instructors often invite batterers and victims to speak to the class. However, the instructors carefully screen these guest speakers to ensure that their views are consistent with the goals of the program.
Curriculum planners reserved the fourth and fifth sessions for classes on topics chosen by the instructors. During these final sessions, the teaching pairs may choose to offer instruction in conflict resolution skills, discuss ways to end difficult relationships, help the students create networks for peer support, or advise students of community resources for victims and batterers.
Program coordinators measured the impact of the program by evaluating changes in the attitudes of students who took the course. Nearly 700 students completed surveys given before and after the classes.
Seventy-eight percent of the females and 59 percent of the males felt that the program would be useful in preventing violence in current or future relationships. Nearly 92 percent of females and 84 percent of males identified school as an appropriate place to learn about dealing with conflict in dating relationships.
The survey also indicated consistent improvement in the students' ability to define and identify abusive behavior abusive behavior Public health Any of various behaviors–aggressive, coercive or controlling, destructive, harassing, intimidating, isolating, threatening–which a batterer may use to control a domestic partner/victim. See Domestic violence. . When asked if "guys should always be in control" of a relationship, 86 percent of females answered no before the course; 90 percent answered no after attending the classes. Sixty-five percent of the males answered no to the same question before the course; 77 percent said no after the course. When asked if calling a female a derogatory de·rog·a·to·ry
1. Disparaging; belittling: a derogatory comment.
2. Tending to detract or diminish. term is abusive, 87 percent of the females answered yes before the course; 93 percent answered yes after the course. Seventy-eight percent of the males answered yes before the course; 86 percent said yes after the course.
Domestic violence represents such a chronic problem for society and law enforcement officers that it has become difficult to envision new ways to address it. Certainly, the best scenario is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
The Violence Prevention Program delivers a proactive message of mutual respect and conflict resolution to counter the mixed signals and negative messages that young people often receive regarding interpersonal relationships This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.
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This article has been tagged since September 2007. . The positive response of the students who have completed the program indicates that they value discussing social issues and want to learn appropriate interpersonal skills "Interpersonal skills" refers to mental and communicative algorithms applied during social communications and interactions in order to reach certain effects or results. The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability .
The combined efforts of law enforcement, the educational system, and private organizations help to make the program both practical and successful. Through the Violence Prevention Program, police officers team up with the community to address an issue before it erupts into a problem.
1 Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 209A, sec. 6 (West 1991).
2 Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 209A, sec. 3B (West 1994).
3 Created by Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board and the Office of the Commissioner of Probation. at Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 208, sec. 34D (West 1994).
4 Enhanced penalty statutes as found in Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 265, sec. 43 (West 1994).
5 Of the three levels of prevention (primary, secondary, and tertiary tertiary (tûr`shēârē), in the Roman Catholic Church, member of a third order. The third orders are chiefly supplements of the friars—Franciscans (the most numerous), Dominicans, and Carmelites. ), primary prevention is the most proactive. It is defined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is a governmental agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with various responsibilities related to public health within that state. , Office of Violence Prevention, as "...the empowerment of individuals, families, and communities to achieve and maintain their maximum health and functioning through the promotion of health-enhancing behaviors and the reduction of biological, economic, social, and environmental risk factors that contribute to ... illness, health problems, and disease."
6 The Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council is the principal police training agency in Massachusetts.
7 Transition House is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts This article is about the city of Cambridge in Massachusetts. For the English university town, see Cambridge, England. For other places, see Cambridge (disambiguation).
Cambridge, Massachusetts is a city in the Greater Boston area of Massachusetts, United States. . Emerge, a program fur batterers, assisted in developing the Violence Prevention Program curriculum.
Mr. Baker is the commissioner of public safety for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Boston. He formerly served as chief of police in Sutton, Massachusetts Sutton is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 8,250 at the 2000 census. History
Sutton was first settled by 1704 and was officially the incorporated in 1714. .