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Children to inform program for violent fathers

Children’s experiences will be used as part of a new training package aimed at men who exhibit violent behaviour in family life.

Recent research shows men who are family violence perpetrators are more willing to seek help and change their behaviour after they learn about how it affects their children. The impacts of family violence on children include increased likelihood of behavioural issues, delayed language development, and possible inability to develop a sense of trust and security – along with the direct physical effects.

A research team from the University of Tasmania, collaborating with the Salvation Army, will conduct this project.

“Childhood exposure to family violence is associated with a range of long-term harms and there is evidence that exposing children to family violence could, in itself, be considered a form of child abuse,” Professor Peter Lucas, spokesperson for the research team, said.

Researchers also said skewed cultural and social perceptions of perpetrators about their masculinity is one of the main reasons men are often unwilling to change their violent behaviour. The program will seek to challenge these perceptions of masculinity by highlighting that seeking help to change abusive behaviour is a strength rather than a weakness, and by attempting to minimise stigmatisation.

Researchers are aiming to engage with a variety of men on the issue at a series of workshops in Tasmania. They will explore the most effective means to educate men about the harmful effects of family violence on children. These workshops are being held on July 9–10 in Launceston, July 10 in Ulverstone and July 15 in Hobart.

Results from the statewide workshops will help inform the development of the training package.

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