My Project

The problem this report deals with is child exposure to domestic violence in New Zealand. This is an issue of extreme importance as there is very strong evidence that children who are exposed to domestic violence are more likely to develop a range of mental illnesses and behavioural difficulties. In addition, exposed children are likely to continue the trend of domestic violence into a new generation. I chose to analyse the New Zealand government’s approach to tackling this problem and determine where and why government failure is occurring. In particular, I focused on government approaches to protect children from future exposure. I discovered that there has been a failure to properly implement the legislation of the Care of Child Act (2004). This failure has resulted from a continued valuation of contact between the abusive parent and their child, and a lack of input from trained psychologists in the determination of when a child is safe from potential harm. Moreover, through a comparative institutional analysis with Australia I discovered that identifying greater amounts of children exposed to domestic violence does not translate into better results for children, but places further unrealistic burden on already strained family services. In light of this fact, I argue that it would be wiser to focus more on those at greatest risk, and provide thorough counselling services for parents and children who have left a violent domestic situation. Finally, I identified successful child-led psychotherapeutic programmes being used in Melbourne and believe these programmes should be made available throughout New Zealand.

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