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Violence affects children

Shalveen Chand
Tuesday, January 07, 2014

WITNESSING domestic violence and being subjected to violence as a child can lead to an acceptance and normalisation of violence, says the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre.

A centre study shows that children who witness violence against their mothers are more likely to suffer the same in their adult lives.

The study highlighted children whose mothers were subjected to physical or sexual violence were about twice as likely to repeat years of schooling, and to stop school altogether.

According to the centre, the findings are consistent with international evidence that children from such families have poorer educational outcomes.

The study also indicates that in addition to symptoms of stress such as bed-wetting, nightmares, and failure at school, children may react with either aggression or timidity to the experience of violence in their households.

Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said 36 per cent of children responded to domestic violence by being aggressive towards their mother and other children, and that this was worrying.

"Both boys and girls can reject the violence and learn other ways of managing relationships based on gender equality and respect for human rights," she said.

"Among those women who have not experienced violence, 23 per cent had mothers who were hit, 10 per cent had husbands whose mothers were hit, and 10 per cent had partners who were also hit themselves when they were boys."

Ms Ali said there was anecdotal evidence that education, information and awareness activities were having an impact.

"FWCC is increasingly finding that mothers and grandmothers are bringing their daughters and granddaughters for counselling early in their relationships, because these mothers and grandmothers no longer accept or tolerate the violence that they put up with in their own married life," she said.

Ms Ali said the centre would continue its awareness campaigns to help women make decisions to put an end to the violence.

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