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Stop Fighting: A Report into the 30 Families seen by the Child Crisis Team

Stop Fighting: A Report into the 30 Families seen by the Child Crisis Team

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Published by Tim Antric
Report on the Child Crisis Team from Preventing Violence in the Home.
Report on the Child Crisis Team from Preventing Violence in the Home.

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Published by: Tim Antric on Jul 09, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“Stop Fighting” 
A Report into 30 Families seen by the ChildCrisis Team
By Rachel Williamson and Jane DrummJuly 2005
It is always with great hard work and trepidation that new services are launched and theChild Crisis Team has been no different. While we were always extremely optimistic, at thebeginning we didn’t know if the programme would be beneficial to children nor if we couldobtain sufficient funding to make it sustainable. We are now in the happy position of beingconfident that we have made significant positive change in the lives of many children andwe know that funding sources are willing to support us.We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the wonderful, encouraging peoplewho either contributed to the initial development of the Child Crisis Team, or who havegreatly supported us through these first few years of implementation. Some of the manypeople who have been extremely kind include: Dr Cindy Kiro, the Commissioner forChildren; Dr Ian Hassall; Siti Mavoa; David Kenkel; Elenore Byrne; Deborah Malcolm; AlbyRean; Sarah Brown; Meike Couling; Annette Presley; Iain Hines; Tim Antric; BettyMacLaren.Without the generous financial support of many different funding sources, this new servicewould never have started nor continued to thrive. We would like to acknowledge and giveour extremely grateful thanks to the ASB Charitable Trusts, the Children’s Commission,Accident Compensation Corporation, JR McKenzie Trust, Safer Auckland City, NewZealand Police, Ministry of Justice, NZ Lotteries Grants Board, the Anonymous Trust,Callplus, Perry Foundation, and Catholic Caring Foundation.
ASB Charitable Trust
New Zealand has shameful statistics of child abuse and child deaths. For many abused women,concern for their children figures heavily in their decision to remain with an abusive partner.Unfortunately, however, staying often results in the children being deeply traumatized by theirchildhood experience. Often these children are left to deal with this by themselves, as, effectively,neither of their parents are available to comfort and reassure them. Unlike most people who canescape violence by simply switching off the television, these children cannot turn off the real lifeviolence happening in their own home. Instead, they are subjected to truly horrific experiencesthat nobody, especially not a child, should ever be exposed to.These children are silent observers of deeply vicious acts, which are perpetrated by the exactpeople who are meant to love and care for them. Recent research indicates that children exposedto domestic violence do not merely passively “witness” the abuse, but actively attempt to processand make meaning of the frightening reality they are faced with (Blanchard, 1993; Mullender et al,2000). Dr Bruce Perry of the Child Trauma Academy in Texas, has found that a child’s braindevelopment is profoundly influenced by childhood experiences, particularly in the first three orfour years of life. These experiences shape the emotional, social, cognitive and physiologicalpotential of the developing brain. The implications of this research for some of the children wework with are extremely disturbing as they point to lasting and serious dysfunction, impacting on allaspects of their lives, unless these children have long term intensive therapy (which is outside thescope of the Child Crisis Team).While Preventing Violence in the Home was initially set up to work with adult victims of familyviolence, after having seen many children living in nightmarish realities we now provide a servicespecifically for children, called the Child Crisis Team. We decided that we could not wait anylonger hoping some other organisation would help these children, while they were left to sufferalone with their trauma and fear. It was important to the success of the programme that majorbarriers to using the service were overcome and for this reason, we go to homes at times that suitthe families, which often include weekends. Our programme objectives are to provide immediatesupport to children, give them ways to cope with their situation, support parenting and assist withreferrals. But the programme also highlights to the children’s custodial parent the serious impactof the abuse on their children. Often when parents realise this, they feel motivated to take actionto protect their children, thereby reducing the time the children are exposed to violence.The new child focused service works in tandem with our existing adult focused emergency calloutand advocacy service. Child advocates provide four sessions with the child(ren) in their ownhome
the first one ideally being within 72 hours of the incident being referred to the agency. Inthe initial visit two advocates visit the family, so one is able to speak with the parent whilst theother concentrates on working directly with the children. Thereafter, only the Child Advocate visitsand while they obviously do spend time talking to the children’s parent, the purpose of the visit isto listen to and support the children. In the Auckland City area our community advocates are alsoavailable to work with families and support the work of the Child Advocates. The communityadvocates assist with crisis counselling for the mother, and help to alleviate a range of practicalmatters confronting the family, for instance, housing, arranging for locks to be changed, fasttracking benefit applications, liaising with Court and Police, referring to lawyers etc. The differencein overcoming obstacles to safety and stability between the families who had this support, inaddition to the Child Crisis Team, and families where the community advocacy service does notoperate was noticeable.Advocates liaise with any external individuals and organisations working with the family. Theyassess the level of trauma and help children formulate safety plans to keep themselves as safe aspossible during future incidences of violence. When the advocates have completed their first three

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