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The Gordon Wicijowski Law Foundation of Sakatchewan Chair in Police Studies Lecture

Mon., Nov. 7, 2016 5:00 p.m.

Location: University of Regina main campus, Luther College, Luther Auditorium

Dr. Nicoholas Bala, Faculty of Law, Queen's University, presents:
Domestic Violence: The Challenge of Taking Into Account the Interests of Children

Domestic violence is a complex, gendered and differentiated social reality. There are many challenges for police, lawyers, and other professionals in dealing with domestic violence cases, including issues of assessing credibility and obtaining evidence, dealing with recantation and reluctant victims, providing protection and support for vulnerable victims, assessing future risk, and holding abusers accountable while providing appropriate interventions that reduce the risk of reoffending.    In some cases the risks posed by domestic violence are not adequately addressed, sometimes with fatal consequences.  However, in other cases allegations of violence may be unfounded or exaggerated, with potential for unfair treatment for those alleged to be abusers. Adding to these challenges, the cases often involve multiple agencies with different missions and roles, and multiple court proceedings potentially involving the criminal justice, child welfare and family courts. Each proceeding has a different purpose, with different parties and rules of proof, but all affect perpetrators, victims and their children.

It is now recognized that children who are exposed to spousal violence are themselves at risk of emotional, developmental and physical harm from the violence, and in many cases children as well as victims need supports and the protection of the justice system. In some cases, all contact between a child and a parent with a history of spousal violence needs to be terminated. However, many of these children will want and benefit from a relationship with the abusive spouse (usually the father), despite the history of domestic violence.

Prof. Bala will consider the challenges and complexity of domestic violence, with a focus on taking account of the interests of children in these cases. He will discuss some his on-going research into innovative programs and policies in Ontario that are intended to improve co-ordination and communication between various agencies and parts of the justice system in dealing with domestic violence cases in a way that promotes the interests of children.

For more information about Dr. Bala, and about this presentation, please visit the event website.