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Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 205–213 | Cite as

Legal and Policy Responses to Children Exposed to Domestic Violence: The Need to Evaluate Intended and Unintended Consequences

  • Peter G. Jaffe
  • Claire V. Crooks
  • David A. Wolfe
Article

Abstract

Greater training and specialization in working with children exposed to domestic violence has resulted in new policies, interagency protocols, and legislation in many states. This paper examines court-related responses in criminal, child protection, and family court custody proceedings, which highlight legislative changes and resulting systemic change. Although this legislation originated with the best of intentions to assist and protect children, some of the most striking outcomes have been negative and unintended. Laws that mandate reporting of children exposed to domestic violence can clash with inadequate training and resources, or inadvertently revictimize abused women. Similarly, child custody legislation that raises a rebuttable presumption that a violent spouse will not receive custody or joint custody of children after parental separation has resulted in greater skepticism about abuse allegations. We propose that efforts at law reform can be enhanced by a more thoughtful analysis of potential intended and unintended consequences, and should be accompanied by a comprehensive evaluation plan to monitor implementation effects.

children domestic violence witnesses policy legislation 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter G. Jaffe
    • 1
  • Claire V. Crooks
    • 2
  • David A. Wolfe
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System of the London Family Court ClinicCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Research on Violence Against Women, and ChildrenUniversity of Western OntarioOntarioCanada

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