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Introducing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Children into a Batterer Program Curriculum: Does an Emphasis on the Kids Improve the Response?

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2007
111 pages
This study examined whether a curriculum for domestic-violence perpetrators that focused on the adverse consequences for children of violence toward their mother was effective in reducing recidivism rates, program-completion rates, or perpetrators' understanding of the impact of domestic violence on children.
Despite the instructors' impression that the men in the child-focused curriculum were more thoughtful about and interested in the material than participants in the curriculum that focused only on the partner/victim, men in the child-focused curriculum were equally likely to be terminated from or drop out of the classes. The only factors significantly associated with a lower rearrest rate were completing the program, regardless of whether it was child-focused or partner-focused; being older; and having no criminal history. This evaluation, as well as previous evaluations of batterer programs, suggests that there may be a group of chronic offenders who commit domestic violence along with other crimes, for whom arrest is not a deterrent and batterer programs, regardless of content, are ineffective. This report recommends that instead of continuing to modify program content in the hope of finding material that will cause positive behavioral change in batterers, efforts should focus on other variables such as improved monitoring and increasing batterers' stake in conformity through employment services. The evaluation involved 123 men mandated to and enrolled in the Safe Horizon domestic violence Accountability Program in Brooklyn, NY, between July 14, 2004, and December 31, 2005. They were randomly assigned to either the child-focused curriculum or the partner/victim-focused curriculum. Forty-six completed the child-focused curriculum, and 35 completed the partner-focused curriculum. Instructors for the two programs were asked about their impressions of participant interest and responses to the curriculum. Rearrests were determined for the period of 1 year after program completion or termination. 14 tables, 73 references, and appended evaluation instruments

Date Published: May 1, 2007