Domestic violence is abuse between intimate partners, either current or former. Domestic abuse or violence can be a continuous pattern of emotional, psychological and physical behavior which is destructive and harmful. Intimate relationships concern people who may be separated, married, divorced, living or may have lived, who were or are dating but they have a child in common. It is beyond marital and live-in relationships. It recognizes abuses by an adult or parent to the children and even child abuse (Diaz, J. et al. 2002).
There must be laws (rules and regulations) governing domestic violence where the abused partner can seek assistance from. The services must be satisfactorily and able to give justice to the abused partner who may have been injured and harmed by the other partner. Domestic violence is a serious offence committed to an individual or community at large. The law enforcers such as the enforcement officers must respond swiftly so as to deal with; and to handle a domestic violence call even if it is frequent (Diaz, J. et al. 2002). Failure to respond properly will expose the community or an individual to a lot of dangers such as fractures, beatings, biting and even death. Domestic violence should be treated and responded to; the same way as any other criminal offence against a person (Diaz, J. et al. 2002).
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Domestic call response includes: a thorough investigation of the occurrence of the incident which involves gathering and analyzing information including the physical evidence such as clothing, pictures and evidence information from the direct and indirect witnesses. The direct and indirect witnesses may include: children, neighbors, workmates, friends and any other person who may be having any relevant information about the domestic violence committed. Sometimes the cases can take long in a court of law due to lack evidence or the victim may be unwilling to disclose all relevant information and facts. The person who is a victim of domestic violence must be provided with security and health care once she has been identified (Feild & Winterfeld, 2003).
When responding to every domestic call even if it is more often, the officers must ensure that, every step taken ensures the safety and the general well being of the victim. This can be achieved by having a clear domestic violence policies made to provide support personnel and officers; with a comprehensive and clear direction, guidelines, definitions and laws (rules and regulations) that enhances and maintain consistent, effective and efficient response to the crimes associated with domestic violence (Feild & Winterfeld, 2003). This is to ensure that, there is a maximum support, security and protection to the victims of domestic violence especially the children and either of the partners. This can be achieved through having well coordinated and planned services for law enforcement and assistance to the victims or the abused partner in a mutual relationship (Widom & DuMont, 2007).
Setting stringent rules and regulations is meant to reduce and eliminate cases of domestic violence and to reduce its severity and incidence of occurrence level. The Emergency Protective Order (EPO) and Domestic Violence Order (DVO) are meant to arrest those who violate these two orders. The officers or personnel must protect the victims through the various acts by:
- Treating all domestic violence acts or deeds as criminal conduct and as a serious offence.
- Arresting the victim as authorized by the state laws because this is the most preferred response to deal with people who perpetuate domestic violence. This is a better option rather than using separation, other police intervention measures or using diplomatic dispute mediation (Diaz, J. et al. 2002).
- Immediate response using the stipulated sanctions and protection measures in the domestic violence Acts. This should be enforced regardless of creed, sexual orientation, socio economic status, disability, gender, national origin, race or senior public official’s positions in the society. Such cases include any of the following persons who may be law enforcement personnel or officer, prominent citizens or public officers.
- Reporting all suspected and known cases of domestic violence and abuses such as child abuse and adult abuse set by the state laws (Diaz, J. et al. 2002).
- Receiving the necessary training on ways to detect and to gather information about domestic violence. Information gathering is important because it is this information that will act a source of evidence.
The information which provided must have clear evidence with facts so as to punish and deal with the people who abuse the children or their mutual partners. Incase any investigation is being conducted by the law enforcers personnel; it must be done secretly so that the abuser may not entice the child or a partner to give false information about domestic violence being investigated. Both the abuser and the abused must be protected at all times so that either of the parties cannot be accused falsely without evidence (Cantwell & Rosenberg, 1990).
Child abuse and neglect
Child abuse is defined as an act or failure of the caretaker or the parent to act in a certain way which can cause serious physical, emotional harm, exploitation or sexual abuse and even death. It can also be acting or failing to act in a way which causes a serious harm or injury to the child (Widom & DuMont, 2007). Child neglect is a common type of child maltreatment in India and in the whole world. Many cases of child abuse and neglect have been reported in India especially in 1970’s and 80’s.
Child neglect refers to the failure by the parent, guardian or caregiver to provide the needed, age care and financial support to the child. This is inadequate care to the child demonstrated by those close to him or her (Widom & DuMont, 2007). Those affected mostly are the infants, preschoolaged and toddlers; and this vice is promoted by the day care personnel, neighbors, physicians and nurses. Indicators of child neglect include: frequent absence from school, inadequate medical care, poor weight gain and poor hygiene. The physical harms include bruises, cuts, beatings, burns or other body injuries. This is due to lack of supervision and the child will have a low self esteem in his lifetime. Other types of neglects includes: medical neglect, educational neglect, physical and psychological neglect (Cantwell & Rosenberg, 1990).
For a child who is abused or neglected, first, it should be reported to the nearest authorities or the local child protective services agency called social or human services within the country or state. These service agencies will guide the affected persons on the way forward. These agencies ensure children rights are safeguarded (Widom & DuMont, 2007).
There are four types of child abuses or child maltreatments recognized worldwide. These are emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect abuse (Cantwell & Rosenberg, 1990).
It is a physical injury which is non accidental in nature. These injuries include bruises, burns, fractures, permanent disability and the most serious one is death (Feild & Winterfeld, 2003). This is as a result of throwing, choking, stabbing with a stick, hands, blunt or sharp objects, strap, beating, punching, beating, kicking and burning. This is done and inflicted to the child by the parents or the caregiver who is responsible for the well being of a child. Such injuries are considered as child abuse so long as the caregiver intention was to hurt the child. Paddling or spanking is not considered as a child abuse because it is physical discipline which is reasonable and does not cause body injury to the child (Diaz, J. et al. 2002).
These include acts by the parent and caregiver to the child such as indecent exposure, fondling the child’s genital organs, penetration, rape, incest, and sodomy, production of pornographic films or materials and exploitation of a child through prostitution. Sexual abuse is the persuasion, coercion, enticement, employment, use and inducement of a child to participate in any sexual conduct and simulation for the purpose of depicting or showing such conducts. The other forms of sexual abuse include: molestation, statutory rape and inter familial or caretaker’s forceful relationships (Diaz, J. et al. 2002)
Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse. This is a type of behavior that impairs the child’s emotional growth, development and the sense of self worth and esteem (Diaz, J. et al. 2002). These emotional abuses include: constant rejection, criticism, threats, withholding guidance, support and love. This is the most difficult form of abuse to be proven, therefore, the child protective services agency may not be able to act upon it due to lack of mental and physical injury to the child. Emotional abuse can be detected when other forms of abuses are identified (Widom & DuMont, 2007).
The role of the social or human services for instance, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is to gather information or evidence on the abused and neglected children (Feild & Winterfeld, 2003). These are the children who have been reported and are well known to the children protective service agencies. They provide guidance and counseling services to the abused and neglected children so as to regain their self esteem, weight and to change their negative attitude towards life (Widom & DuMont, 2007).
The human social services are to ensure that, justice is done to the abused or neglected children. They follow up cases in a court of law by providing supportive evidence and documents showing that the accused was responsible. They also educate the public on how to identify the abused and neglected children in a family and the community at large. Further more, they clarify to the people the consequences for abusing the children, how to assist the children who are abused and procedures for reporting to the authorities about the abused children. For it to be effective, ICWA must be provided with all relevant information so as to fight for the children rights effective especially on issues touching on abuse and neglect (Widom & DuMont, 2007).
The guardians found abusing or neglecting children should face the laws as spelled out in the Children Abused Act. The guardians can be imprisoned for life, a term not less twenty years or separated with the children until they attain the age of majority when they can no longer be abused. The parental rights to take care of the children can be prohibited if a parent is found to be abusing the child instead of discharging his or her duties to the child appropriately (Feild & Winterfeld, 2003).