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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 10 | June 14, 2001

Project explores abuse connections

Initiative among several aimed at exploring child and family issues

by Hilary Thomson staff writer

Exploring links between animal abuse and family violence is the research focus for two members of the UBC Child and Family Project.

Nursing Asst. Prof. Janet Ericksen and Social Work Prof. Mary Russell have been working together on the issue as part of the project that undertakes interdisciplinary research on a spectrum of issues around children and families.

Working with UBC investigators from areas that include education and animal welfare as well as community agencies such as the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the BC/Yukon Society of Transition Houses, the researchers are identifying connections between child, wife and animal abuse and aim to improve detection and intervention.

"The field of family violence tends to be fragmented," says Russell. "We hope to raise awareness among health professionals, corrections officers, social service workers and others about the connections."

More than 50 children and 100 women die as a direct result of family abuse in Canada every year according to Statistics Canada and B.C. Institute Against Family Violence surveys.

More than 60 per cent of women who entered a transition house reported that their partners had also abused or killed their pet, according to an Ontario study. In B.C. last year, the SPCA investigated more than 7,000 animal abuse cases.

Researchers estimate the overlap between these different types of abuse is more than 50 per cent.

Investigators plan to develop inter-agency reporting protocols so that social workers and animal welfare agencies can share information in violence-related cases.

Russell and Ericksen are also developing an interdisciplinary family violence distance education course with Women's Studies Asst. Prof. Sunera Thobani and Assoc. Prof. Angela Henderson in the School of Nursing. The course will be offered in January 2002.

The Child and Family Project will prepare a research agenda this summer in consultation with university and community groups that will look particularly at community-based research on child and family issues.

"We want to create and sustain linkages between academics, other professionals and community members and to stimulate discussion," says Education Prof. Hillel Goelman who has directed the project since it started in 1999.

For more information about the project call 604-822-6593 or visit the Web site at www.educ.ubc.ca/research/childandfamily/.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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