Children, Domestic Violence and Addictions The cycle of unhealthy family systems and the effects thereof on children in South African communities Presented by Hannes Koekemoer Criminologist
Definitions for the Day • Domestic Violence • Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in all sectors of society--a syndrome that exhibits no bias in any regard and is not affected by race or economic class. Historically, domestic violence was viewed solely as males battering females, but this is no longer an exclusive distinction. Today, numerous males are victims of domestic violence (Officer.com, 2007: np). • Violence • Henkeman (2017) argued that South African faces various forms of denial when it comes to violence. The researcher argued that violence can be divided into visible and invisible forms of violence/Abuse. Systems of violence with a family occurs in both spaces. In a South African context, it is “easy for us to accept” physical violence occurs. Although we minimise the effects of violence and normalise the use, especially in a family context. • Child Abuse • “Any interaction or lack of interaction by a parent or caretaker which results in the non- accidental harm to the child’s physical and/or developmental state.” The term child abuse therefore includes not only the physical non-accidental injury of children, but also emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Therefore abuse can range from habitually humiliating a child to not giving the necessary care (ChildlineSA, 2019: np).
Definitions for the Day:Continued • Addiction • According to the American Psychiatry Association addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life (American Psychiatry Association, 2019: np). • Substance (in relation to Addictions) • A drug is any substance when taken alters bodily function either physically and/or psychologically. Drugs may be legal or illegal (DrugAware, 2019: np). Addiction may involve the use of substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, nicotine, and others (Psychology Today, 2019: np). Substance can be divided into three main categories stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens
The Dynamics of Domestic Violence • While the violence may take place within a range of relationships and take many different forms—physical or non-physical, sexual and non-sexual, direct or indirect, actual or threatened—it is characterised by a pattern of abusive behaviour involving a perpetrator’s exercise of control over the victim, often for an extended period. This behaviour may occur throughout a relationship, or it may be initiated or exacerbated at times of heightened risk, for example, pregnancy, attempted or actual separation, and during court proceedings dealing with children or joint property matters. (Attorney-General’s Department, Australian Government, 2018)
Legal Aspects of Domestic Violence • The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998, Identifies the following as a form of Abuse, Physical abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Psychological abuse, Verbal abuse, Economic Abuse, Intimidation, Harassment, Stalking, Damage to state Property. • The Act that deals with domestic violence in South Africa. This law exists to give people who are experiencing domestic violence the best possible protection that the law can, and it commits the government to stopping domestic violence. • The act provides a broad definition of what is a domestic relationship as well as who can be the abuser [perpetrator]. Women can abuse other women, and men can abuse other men, and women can also abuse men. Child abuse is very serious; and must be reported to the police!
Domestic Violence ActProtection Orders • The DVA makes it possible for you to get a protection order against an abuser. The protection order will prohibit the abuser from committing more acts of domestic violence against you. If the abuser commits an act of domestic violence against you that is prohibited in the protection order, he can be arrested and taken to court for disobeying the protection order. • You can apply for a protection order in terms of the DVA if you are abused by somebody with home you are in a domestic relationship. You can also apply for a protection order on behalf of someone else who is a victim of domestic violence. Any person who is concerned that you are being abused, including a social worker, teacher, a health worker or police service member. • You can apply for a protection order at the domestic violence section of your nearest magistrate’s court, or the magistrate’s court that is closest to where the person who is abusing you lives or works.
Child Abuse (Western Cape Government, 2019: np)
Legal Aspect of Child Abuse • According to the Children’s Act (Act38 of 2005) section 2, it clearly outlines the purpose of the act: • The objects of the Act are – • to promote the preservation and strengthening of families • to give effect to the following constitutional rights of children – • family care or parental care or appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment • social services • protection from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation and • that the best interest of a child are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child; • to give effect to the Republic’s obligations concerning the well-being of Children in terms of international instruments binding on the republic.
The Objectives of the Children’s Act • The main objective of the Children’s Act is to give effect to children’s constitutional rights to: • family care, parental care or appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment; • social services; • protection from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation; and • have their best interests considered to be of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child
What is the role of Health Professionals • Section 110 Reporting of Abuse or Neglect child and child in need of care and protection • 110(1) Any correctional official, dentist, homeopath, immigration official, labour inspector, legal practitioner, medical practitioner, midwife, minister of religion, nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychologist, religious leader, social service professional, social worker, speech therapist, teacher, traditional health practitioner, traditional leader or member of staff or volunteer worker at a partial care facility, drop-in centre or child and youth care centre • 110(2) Any person who on reasonable grounds believes that a child is in need of care and protection may report that belief to the provincial department of social development, a designated child protection organisation or a police official. • Section 129 deals with consent to medical treatment and surgical operation. • A child may consent to his/her (or his/het child) own medical treatment or operation, If the child is above the age of 12 and of sufficient maturity and mental capacity to understand the benefits, risks, social and other implications • Important to note 129(10) clearly states that no parent, guardian or care-giver of a child may refuse to assist a child or withhold consent by reason only of religious or other beliefs. They have to show there is a medically accepted alternative choice to the treatment or surgical operation. • Section 130 – 133 HIV Testing of Children • Section 134 Access to Contraceptives
Consequences of Unhealthy Family Systems • Normalisation of violence • Violence towards self and others • Violence towards Animals • Normalisation of Sexual deviancy • Wekerle, Miller, Wolfe, and Spindel (2006, p. 11) argued that children who experience any form of [inappropriate sexual experience] will engage in sexualized behaviours beyond what is appropriate for their developmental stage. • Normalisation of Substance abuse and negative coping measures. • Ashcroft, Daniels and Hart (2003) argued a strong link between childhood abuse and substance dependency. They found that boys who experience violence or abuse at a young age are more prevalent to show signs of PTSD, become involved in delinquency and act out violent behaviour.
References • American Psychiatry Association, 2019. Psychiatry: Patients-Families: Addiction. [Online] Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction[Accessed 16 July 2019]. • Ashcroft, J., Daniels, D. J. & Hart, S. V., 2003. Youth Victimization: Prevalence and Implications, Rockville, MD: US Department of Justice. • Attorney-General’s Department, Australian Government, 2018. National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book. Updated June 2018 ed. Melbourne: Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration. • ChildlineSA, 2019. ChildlineSA: For Educators: Child Protection at School: Recognising Child Abuse. [Online] Available at: http://www.childlinesa.org.za/educators/for-educators/child-protection-at-school/recognising-child-abuse/[Accessed 17 July 2019].
References • DrugAware, 2019. drugaware.com.au: Getting the Facts: FAQs: What are Drugs. [Online] Available at: https://drugaware.com.au/getting-the-facts/faqs-ask-a-question/what-are-drugs/#what-is-a-drug[Accessed 16 July 2019]. • Henkeman, S., 2017. Open Guide to a Deeper, Wider and Longer Analysis of Violence. Cape Town: Academia.edu • Officer.com, 2007. Officer Home: Article: Understanding the Dynamics Of Domestic Violence. [Online] Available at: https://www.officer.com/home/article/10250106/understanding-the-dynamics-of-domestic-violence[Accessed 5th June 2019]. • Psychology Today, 2019. Psychologytoday: Basics: Addiction. [Online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/addiction[Accessed 16 July 2019]. • Wekerle, C., Miller, A. L., Wolfe, D. A. & Spindel, C. B., 2006. Chilhood Maltreatment. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe & Huber. • Westerncape Government, 2019. WesterncapeGov: General Publication: What is Child Abuse. [Online] Available at: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/general-publication/what-child-abuse[Accessed 17 July 2019].