Children 'perhaps the greatest victims of domestic violence,' says family law expert
Children observing, getting stressed out more than people might think, Nick Bala says
Family law expert Nick Bala says domestic violence hurts everyone, but perhaps children more than anybody.
"The interests of children, I think, are too often not given appropriate attention," Bala told CBC Radio's Morning Edition on Monday. The Queen's University professor is speaking in Regina this afternoon.
More commonly, the children are observers.- Nick Bala, family law expert
"They're perhaps the greatest victims of domestic violence."
Adult victims and abusers in domestic violence cases sometimes forget or are unaware that their children see everything.
"More commonly, the children are observers," Bala said.
"Children find that very stressful, especially if it's an ongoing, repeated event."
In a case where a husband is abusing his wife, it's important to focus first on the safety of the victim.
However, taking the long view, it's important to remember children may have a relationship with their father for the rest of their lives.
Agencies must collaborate
To provide a proper balance between long-term and short-term concerns, it's a smart approach to try to bring various agencies to work together, he said.
But, Bala said, "One of the problems is that we have a number of interacting systems that are quite unco-ordinated."
Police, family court workers and social services are sometimes coming at problems from different angles.
Among Canada's provinces, Saskatchewan had the highest rate of family violence, according to Statistics Canada. There were 487 police-reported incidents per 100,000 people in 2014, the federal statistics agency says — double the national rate of 243.
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Bala is the featured speaker at the Dr. Gordon Wicijowski Law Foundation of Saskatchewan chair in police studies lecture. It starts at 5 p.m. CST at the Luther College Auditorium at the University of Regina.
With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition