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Reporting for EdSource, Susan Fray details Oakland Unified’s recent decision to eliminate the suspension category of willful defiance, maing them the fourth major California school districts to remove the controversial category. Willful defiance suspensions make up a large number of the total suspensions in public schools and have disproportionately impacted Black and Latino students across the state. In addition to this disproportionate impact, willful definance suspensions have been criticized for being a catch-all for a range of negative school based behaviors including not completing a homework assignment or talking back to a teacher.
In conjunction with this decsion, Oakland Unified has pledged to invest $2.3 million dollars to fund restorative justice disciplinary alternatives throughout Oakland public schools. Commenting on the Board’s bold move, superintendent Antwan Wilson stated, “If we are to ensure that success for Oakland children is not determined by cultural background or neighborhood, it means that we must build strong relationships with our students at school and invest deeply in restorative practices. This is about re-integrating students into the classroom rather than excluding them from learning.”
To learn more about the restorative justice work underway throughout Oakland public schools, click here.
Known as restorative justice, it’s being used in schools across the state to create accountability and unity through community building circles – a model that traces its roots to indigenous societies.
The practices take different forms. In Long Beach, for example, programs have catered to second-generation Southeast Asian youth, reeling from their parents’ trauma of the Cambodian genocide.
Here in Santa Ana, coordinators are hoping to reach Latino youth by instilling a “rites of passage” curriculum, or Joven Noble, that challenges the myth that manhood is defined by physical dominance and sex. Manhood, the practice says, is about honor, generosity and respect.
Read the full article here.
The following is a summary of Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links of Multiple Forms of Violence (Center for Disease Control, 2014). The aim of the report is, firstly, to highlight the often overlooked connections between various forms of violence including child abuse, intimate partner violence, bullying, and community violence. The report goes on to urge service providers to break down the walls that currently exist between specialized fields in order to more adequately address the harms created by violent behavior and to prevent continued perpetuation.
“Professionally we have silos, and we operate in these silos we’ve got to break down. Across the country, people working to prevent child abuse are right across the hall from people working on violence against women, and they don’t work together. As we go into communities to bring everybody to the table, don’t let people say, ‘I work on child abuse, but this is about gang violence.’ Don’t let people say, ‘I work on violence against women, and this is about child abuse.’ This thing, all this violence, is connected.” -Deborah Prothrow-Stith, MD, Adjunct Professor, Harvard School of Public Health
Risk Factors and Protective Factors
Violent behavior is incredibly complex and is influenced by a myriad of risk factors–the things that put an individual at greater risk for experiencing and perpetrating violence–and protective factors–things that increase resiliency and decrease the likelihood that someone will engage in or be victim to violence. The CDC has identified the following risk and protective factors with regards to violent behavior:
Examples of risk factors are: rigid social beliefs about what is “masculine” and “feminine,” lack of job opportunities, and family conflict
Examples of protective factors are: connection to a caring adult or access to mental health services
The Impact of Violence on Development
-Children who grow up in safe and nurturing environments “learn empathy, impulse control, anger management and problem-solving—all skills that protect against violence”
-Children who grow up in persistently violent, unstable, and/or unsafe environments often interpret situations to be threatening and are more likely to respond violently (fight) or to avoid the situation together (flee)
-These responses, termed fight-or-flight, “are survival skills that people are born with and often override other skills that enable non-violent conflict resolution, such as impulse control, empathy, anger management, and problem-solving skills”
Community Context and the Co-Occurrence of Multiple Forms of Violence
-Low social cohesion within communities and lack of economic opportunities are associated with higher rates of intimate partner violence, child abuse and maltreatment, and youth violence
-Individuals who lack adequate support from friends, family members, or neighbors, have been found to perpetrate partner abuse, child maltreatment, and/or elder abuse at rates higher than their more socially integrated counterparts
-Witnessing community violence is a risk factor for being bullied and for perpetrating sexual violence
-Access to mental health and substance abuse services in addition to coordination of resources and services across community agencies increases communities’ resiliency to violence
This short film explores the intergenerational transmission of domestic abuse and what a group of young men are doing to break the cycle of violence that has impacted their own lives.
Shame is a highly complex and potentially dangerous human emotion often associated with intolerable feelings of humiliation, disgrace, and embarrassment (Mills, 2008). In contrast to guilt which focuses on behavior, shame refers to a particular state of emotionality where an individual’s entire sense of self is targeted for critique (Tangney, 1996 cited in Kivisto et al. 2011).
Understanding this difference is hugely important to the study of violent and aggressive behavior–and thus to the field of domestic violence–primarily because of the differential impact guilt and shame are thought to have on the promotion of violent behavior. Whereas guilt has been found to deter aggression, both towards ourselves and against others, shame tends to promote anger and violence (Tangney, 1996, cited in Kivisto et al. 2011). Shame is experienced as such an intensely painful emotion that it is suppressed at all costs. It eventually and inevitably erupts though, displaying itself in harmful behaviors that can include self-mutilation, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation (Mills, 2008). Shame can also result in the externalization of this pain, manifesting in violence directed at other people (Mills, 2008; Gilligan, 1999).
This fact holds particular relevance for the domestic violence field. Specifically, research on the link between shame and aggression provides often overlooked insight into the etiology of partner violence in addition to shedding light on why traditional models of intervention and treatment–exemplified by Duluth-style programs–have failed to break the cycle of violence and keep victims safe.
Shame and Partner Violence
It is well established that one of the single greatest predictors for the perpetuation of partner violence is having witnessed physical aggression between parents in one’s family of origin. Dutton, van Ginkel, and Starzomski (1995, cited in Kivisto et al. 2011) found however, that when parental physical violence was controlled for, shaming experiences were more strongly correlated with adult perpetuation of partner violence. To be sure, direct shaming of children can co-occur with parental physical violence, and further, physical violence against children is shame-inducing in that such experiences communicate to children that they are unloveable (Gilligan, 1999). The importance of Dutton and colleagues findings however underscore the powerful and potentially dangerous role of shame in the promotion of violent acting out.
Taken together, findings such as these highlight the powerful effect that shame has on the developing child’s personality and on the likelihood of adult perpetration of aggressive and physical forms of partner violence: “Early shaming experiences contribute to the formation of the ‘abusive personality’, characterized by high levels of chronic anger and an attributional style of externalizing blame, and parental physical abusiveness provides the modeling of behaviors to express anger characteristic of this type of personality”.
Unfortunately, advocates and professionals working in the domestic violence field have strongly resisted the inclusion of psychological factors in theories of causation (Corvo & Johnson, 2003). The traditional paradigm favors instead, an ideologically based explanation that conceptualizes partner violence as culturally sanctioned behavior, deployed consciously and strategically by men against their female partners, in order to exert their (men’s) perceived right to power and control (Corvo & Johnson, 2003). Attempts to expand the etiological parameters established by feminist discourse in the field are dismissed as making excuses for a perpetrator’s violent behavior or worse, as victim-blaming. Critics of this rigid framework contend however, that seeking to understand why someone behaves the way they do hardly justifies the bad behavior. In the end, disrupting the cycle of violence is only possible to the extent that we accurately identify the root causes of such behavior.
To date, the ideological stranglehold that posits a singular theory of causation for domestic violence has prevented the development of more accurate and precise etiological theories; stunted scientific inquiry into more effective interventions and treatment models; and given birth to federal and state policies which rely almost exclusively on punitive, criminal justice-based responses to domestic violence. In spite of a growing body of research which challenges the efficacy and safety of Duluth-style programs, it remains the treatment of choice for domestically violent individuals (Corvo & Johnson, 2003).
Implications for Treatment
If early experiences of direct shaming put children at risk for adult perpetration of partner violence, then it is no wonder that current interventions have have failed to meaningfully address abusive behavior. Besides failing to target the root cause(s) of violent behavior, interventions that rely on punitive, anti-therapeutic responses can be seen as shame inducing themselves and thus might contribute to continued incidents of partner abuse. Corvo and Johnson (2003) contend for example that much of our legal, clinical, and social responses are rooted in the ‘vilification of the batterer’: “The popular, policy, and ‘scientific’ designation of perpetrators of partner violence as being appropriate targets for dismissive, degrading, and stereotypical characterizations”. Such a response is likely to activate the perpetrators trauma history and could reinforce, rather than uproot, maladaptive behaviors.
Advocates who ascribe to the Duluth Model assert that if domestic violence perpetrators could just unlearn their patriarchal socialization, they could stop being abusive. The above cited research indicates that partner violence is far more complicated than that though, often–although not always–having roots in a abusers own long and painful history of victimization.
This is not to say that we should adopt a universal policy of addressing partner violence solely through a psychological lens. We should however, investigate and develop theories of causation that identify all of the social, psychological, and biological factors that potentially contribute to partner violence. Interventions should be tailored to the unique needs of each victim and perpetrator rather than the one size fits all approach of Duluth-style programs. Finally, professionals in the field must resist conceptualizations of perpetrators as treatment resistant villains who are undeserving of help and should utilize intervention models that are responsive, holistic, and that affirm the humanity of all those involved in the treatment process.
We are very excited to share the following information on upcoming events taking place in New York and in California! Both events focus on beginning a dialogue around the creation of more sensitive and victim-centered responses to partner violence and sexual assault. Please see below for more information.
Addressing Victims’ Needs: Creating Holistic Models of Support for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence
Hosted by NYU Center on Violence and Recovery
Kimmel Center, New York University, 60 Washington Square South, Room 905, New York, New York, 10003
Thursday, April 16 at 3:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Community experts, Dr. Faye Zakheim, Billye Jones, Priya Chandra, and the Reverend Dr. Donna Schaper, will discuss the creation of holistic models of support for victims of intimate partner violence. Participants will gain insight into the commonly overlooked needs of unique populations and the challenges of building comprehensive services for victims. They will also learn how spiritual life, community integration, and support groups can play a role in the healing process. Light refreshments will be served.
To RSVP, visit CVR’s Facebook page.
Justice That Heals: Confronting Gender Violence on Campus & in Communities
Hosted by Restorative Justice Center at University of California, Berkeley
Hearst Field Annex D-37, University of California, Berkeley
Saturday, April 11 at 9:30am – 4:30pm PST
With campus and criminal justice policies under fire for ignoring the needs of survivors of gender-based violence, people are looking for alternatives. This conference brings together academics and activists to explore the possibilities and limitations of Restorative / Transformative Justice in response to sexual violence and misconduct on campus and in communities that experience structural oppression.
Keynote speaker Dr. Mary Koss is the co-founder and principal investigator of the RESTORE program in Arizona, which has designed Restorative processes that emphasize the needs of survivors and responsible parties. She is now applying her expertise to the question of sexual misconduct on college campuses. Workshops and panels will explain RJ / TJ processes and present critical analysis of their capacity to repair flawed or broken systems.
For questions or concerns email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To RSVP, visit the Restorative Justice Center’s Facebook page
DrugScope have been working with London services, commissioners, and academics to examine how the needs of individuals who have experienced intimate partner violence can be better addressed within substance misuse services. Lauren Garland writes about the new briefing published by DrugScope on behalf of the Recovery partnership.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an issue which disproportionately affects people accessing drug and alcohol services. Research suggests that women who have experienced gender based violence are 5.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with a substance misuse problem over the course of their lifetime, while another study suggests that 21% of people who had experienced IPV believed that the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol and 8% thought the perpetrator had used illicit drugs.
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Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris discusses the detrimental impact of traumatic childhood experiences on physical and mental health outcomes across the lifespan. Harris ardently calls on healthcare professionals to take seriously the treatment of prevention of trauma:
“The science is clear: Early adversity dramatically affects health across a lifetime. Today, we are beginning to understand how to interrupt the progression from early adversity to disease and early death, and 30 years from now, the child who has a high ACE score and whose behavioral symptoms go unrecognized, whose asthma management is not connected, and who goes on to develop high blood pressure and early heart disease or cancer will be just as anomalous as a six-month mortality from HIV/AIDS”
Jackie Schecter reports for Chalkbeat on New York City’s plan to expand restorative justice programs throughout public schools.
The head of the Department of Education’s Office of Safety and Youth Development verbally committed to provide new support for restorative justice programs at a May meeting about school discipline issues, according to two attendees. Though few details of the expansion have been finalized, the agreement represents the administration’s first step toward enacting discipline policy changes that Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Mayor Bill de Blasio have both called for.
Click here to read the full article.