Domestic violence can have long-lasting impacts on children and hence society by extension, this according to retired Canadian Judge and mediator, Nancy Flatters QC yesterday during her presentation entitled 'Battered Minds, Battered Future?' during the third day of the Seventh Annual Mediation Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Hotel yesterday.
Flatters said that in order to properly address the issue of domestic violence, authorities and public must have a full understanding of the complex nature of such conflicts.
"Responding to Domestic violence is a community and a societal issue, so what do we need to know? We must have facts in our mediations, we need to know what brings our parties to us. Through knowledge and understanding we must bring a series of questions and understanding the impact on each piece of received information."
She said that part of understanding the nature of domestic violence and it's influences on the family unity and society by extension, was understanding that the roles of aggressor and victim in such situations were not gender specific, citing the growing reports of females as the perpetrators of domestic violence and men as the victims.
"Domestic violence happens across the full socio-economic continuum, from poor families to very wealthy families. In terms of domestic violence, it's not just men who are perpetrators, statistics more and more are showing that women are also perpetrators. Words like perpetrator and victim don't have a specific gender."
Citing a recent publication by child rights activists, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, Flatters said that it was important that previously held notions of children and the causes of domestic violence were in need of re-examining under a more critical light and highlighted the impact of environments and interaction to a child's development.
"Mahabir-Wyatt in her article said that she was told by a leading academic that our children's brains were different from children elsewhere in the world, so that thousands of validated studies, showing that beating children actually impeded their intellectual development, did not apply here. That time I did not believe."
"And so it is, children are all born the same, they all have 23 chromosomes what happens next is part of gene expression and our environment and based on the data, children are very much affected by their environments."
Magistrate Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds during her opening remarks, echoed Flatters' sentiments, adding that the environment in which children grow up, largely influence their later lives.
"It depends on who the child is, where he is situated and what he sees and in this digital age, to further complicate that dynamic, the line between what is real and virtual has so successfully been blurred, that distress has been dehumanised."