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Violence in Families: Assessing Prevention and Treatment Programs; Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1998
27 pages
This report summarizes the latest in a series of reports by the National Research Council that examine the emerging social science research base on violence and families; it focuses on the nature and scope of interventions, their impact, costs, and evaluation.
This research review determined that findings from small- scale studies of family-violence intervention programs are often adopted into policy and professional practice without sufficient independent replication or reflection on their possible shortcomings. Further, identification and treatment interventions predominate over preventive strategies in all areas of family violence, reflecting a current emphasis on after-the-fact interventions rather than proactive approaches. The study also determined that interventions occur in an uncoordinated system of services whose effects interact on the problem of family violence in a way that presents a major challenge to their evaluation. Secondary prevention efforts have emerged in some areas (such as home visitation services and child-witness-to-violence interventions) that show some promise of impact on family violence by concentrating services on targeted populations at risk. An increasing emphasis on the need for the integration of services is stimulating interest in comprehensive and cross- problem approaches that can address family violence in the context of other problem behaviors. Also, the duration and intensity of the mental health and social support services needed to influence behavior that result from or contribute to family violence may be greater than initially estimated. The study concludes that it is premature to offer policy recommendations for most family-violence interventions in the absence of a research base of well-designed evaluations; however, the committee has identified two areas (home visitation and intensive family preservation services) in which a rigorous set of studies offers important guidance to policymakers and service providers. In four other areas -- reporting practices, batterer treatment programs, recordkeeping, and collaborative law enforcement strategies -- the committee has drawn on its judgment and deliberations to encourage policymakers and service providers to take actions that are consistent with the state of the current research base. For the full report, see NCJ-170627.

Date Published: January 1, 1998