Manitoba Announces New Awareness Campaign andWednesday, July 28 2010
Domestic Violence Prevention Month Launched in Manitoba
Information about the cycle of domestic violence and its impact on children of the family is the focus of a new public awareness campaign launched for domestic violence prevention month by Family Services and Housing Minister Gord Mackintosh.
"Domestic violence not only affects the direct victim, but also the children who see and hear the trauma," Mackintosh said. "These children are at greater risk of becoming violent themselves and suffering serious emotional problems."
Mackintosh also signalled a new direction in domestic violence programming: targeted assistance for children exposed to domestic violence.
A new fund called At the Roots will benefit children initially through five community-driven action plans:
- counselling, sharing circles, play therapy, and honouring and healing ceremonies for Aboriginal children who receive services through Wahbung Abinoonjiiag agency;
- assessment and connection to services including play therapy for children referred by a parent to the Fort Garry Women's Resource Centre;
- group counselling for children outside of the shelter network through referrals from community agencies to the Portage la Prairie Family Abuse Prevention Centre;
- therapy services focussing on children under five years old to complement existing services at Women in Second Stage Housing in Winnipeg; and
- youth education on domestic violence in Flin Flon through the Women's Safe Haven.
"Domestic violence has devastating effects on children that can last a lifetime," said Sharon Hunter, counselling co-ordinator at the Fort Garry Women's Resource Centre. "Helping children heal from the effects of domestic violence means we have a chance to break the cycle of abuse in future families."
"Reducing the likelihood of a next generation perpetuating domestic violence holds out real promise for a safer future," says Mackintosh.
"Although Manitoba is be recognized for its continuum of domestic violence initiatives, At the Roots responds to the emerging research on child exposure to domestic violence."
The cost of the public awareness campaign Domestic Violence Destroys Families and the At the Roots fund is $175,000. The awareness campaign includes bus shelter advertising and more than 45,000 brochures will be sent to almost 500 agencies throughout the province to help raise awareness about domestic violence prevention.
The 24-hour, toll-free provincewide crisis line is available at 1-877-977-0007.
Children and Violence
A public health problem of tremendous proportions, childhood exposure to violence (CEV) has a devastating impact on children's development, affecting emotional growth, cognitive development, physical health and school performance. CEV has been significantly linked with increased depression, anxiety, anger, and alcohol and drug abuse, and with decreased academic achievement.
Without intervention, children exposed to violence may suffer long-term repercussions of their exposure, including diminished health and well-being. The children, who experience violence, either as victims or as witnesses, are also at increased risk of becoming violent themselves.
These children are significantly more likely to have involvement with the juvenile justice system, committing crimes at younger ages and nearly twice as often as their peers who have not been similarly exposed to violence.
U.S. National Center for Children Exposed to Violence
SINCE 2000, THE GOVERNMENT HAS MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN MAKING MANITOBA ONE OF THE LEADERS IN SERVICES WITHIN CANADA.
- Since 1999, funding for services for victims has doubled.
- In March, Manitoba Justice, in partnership with Manitoba Family Services and Housing and the Winnipeg Police Service, launched the Domestic Violence Intervention Unit, an intervention and support program for the community where families are connected to services by referral.
- In 2004, the government provided funding to A Women's Place as well as access to Crown attorneys, victim support staff and other supports for victims where domestic violence has had an impact. Women with domestic violence and legal issues, who would not normally successfully access supports in the community, have been aided by A Woman's Place.
- The provincial government has expanded the mandate of victim support service workers to help victims obtain civil protection orders, either before or after charges are laid.
- Between 2000 and 2005, funding increased for shelters, resource centres, crisis lines, second-stage housing support programs and specialized counselling services have increased by more than 50 per cent.
- Through Manitoba Family Services and Housing, the Family Violence Prevention Program began funding the Men's Resource Centre in 2000, a first in Manitoba and one of only three in Canada. It offers counselling, community outreach programs, a peer assistance program and a toll-free telephone number for men living in outlying communities or in rural Manitoba.
Stronger Legislation, Action for Victims
- Canada's strongest civil domestic violence law came into effect last fall that makes more victims eligible for protection orders, including people who have dated but are not living together, and abuse in families where relatives haven't lived together.
- Last fall, Manitoba introduced the Enforcement of Canadian Judgments Act, to make it easier to enforce court orders made in other Canadian jurisdictions in this province including civil protection orders.
- Manitoba has provided new positions to support the chief judge's groundbreaking program the Front End Project to give speedy passage to domestic violence cases. On June 19, the premier and the chief judge accepted an award from the United Nations for the Front End Project, which helps safeguard victims of domestic violence by making the court system work faster and more efficiently. In the project's first six months, the time for an out-of-custody accused to enter a plea after a first court appearance dropped to two months from seven months. Trial backlogs were reduced by almost half in just two years.
- The government has expanded specialized domestic violence court support services to 28 communities from five to improve access outside larger urban centres.
- Stronger prosecutions are being built by establishing a one-prosecutor, one-case system on domestic violence so cases are handled from beginning to end by the same Crown attorney.