Children Killed in the Context of Domestic Violence: Lessons Learned from Tragedies
Although child homicides are relatively rare events, many of these deaths appear predictable and preventable with hindsight. Some of this hindsight has come from various death review processes across Canada, the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand that have developed in the past decade. These reviews by interdisciplinary committees shed light on what transpired and how to prevent the same outcome in similar circumstances in the future. These reviews often highlight patterns of known risk factors prior to the homicide as well as shortcomings in inter-agency collaboration with health, social services, and education and justice professionals. There may be multiple systems and organizations who miss opportunities to share information and develop effective intervention strategies in the community and the justice system. This presentation outlines the often-repeated lessons learned from these tragedies that include the need for enhanced professional and public education to save children’s lives. Future directions are discussed in terms of the need for better risk assessment, safety planning and risk management by legal and mental health professionals with a special focus on child custody and parenting disputes.
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Dr. Peter Jaffe is a psychologist and Professor in the Faculty of Education at Western University and the Academic Director of the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children. He is the Director Emeritus for the London Family Court Clinic, which a children’s mental health centre is specializing in issues that bring children and families into the justice system in London, Ontario. He has co-authored eleven books, 29 chapters and over 80 articles related to domestic violence, the impact of domestic violence on children, homicide prevention and the role of the criminal and family justice systems. For the past 40 years, he has presented workshops across the United States and Canada, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Europe to various groups including judges, lawyers, health, mental health professionals and educators. He was a founding member of Ontario's Chief Coroner’s Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. Dr. Peter Jaffe co-leads the The Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative with Vulnerable Populations (CDHPIVP). CDHIPIVP is a five-year SSHRC partnership grant (2015-2020) that explores the unique needs of Indigenous, immigrant and refugee, rural, remote, and northern communities, and children exposed to domestic violence.