Saturday, 15 August 2015

Breaking the cycle of Family Violence

The cost of violence to children
Those who harm others have often experienced family violence as children. This is not an excuse. 
It is true that  many young victims grow up to be mature, loving and responsible adults who are great parents and citizens.  They have suffered, and been harmed by the trauma, neglect, abuse and/or poor parenting typically associated with family violence. Yet somehow the harm has been repaired.  A courageous parent, a grandparent, an older sibling, a teacher or caseworker or... may have made the critical difference. 
A destructive response to life's ups and downs?
Family violence is frequently a result of the perpetrators' failure to moderate their responses to life's ups and down. Such failures, in part, can be the result of childhood modelling and harm resulting from family violence. The harm remains un-repaired, the social and emotional development is lacking. When things go wrong everyone suffers and the problems continue.  In this way, family violence is passed on from one generation to the next.
Using restorative practices in response to the harm done by young people at school and in the community is important. Some achievements are amazing - the efforts of all concerned can be heroic.
The unsung heroes of Restorative Practices
There is another less spectacular version of Restorative Practices. One in which the harm that children carry with them is gently healed by caring teachers and coaches, patient and encouraging classmates and team mates. In their everyday life and work, these schools, clubs... 
  • build themselves as communities in their own right
  • include everyone, and support everyone's inclusion (if at all possible)
  • set high standards for actions and relationships (respect and accountability)
  • demonstrate that life always has its ups and downs and that is "OK"
  • that the use of force is rarely necessary 
  • ...
In this way they address the gaps left by poor or erroneous parenting and the lack of social and emotional learning. 
That is, we need our schools, services and communities to be restorative in order to help repair the harm done to children before they become perpetrators of family violence in the next generation.

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