London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Looking forward to childhood: training professionals working with children exposed to domestic violence

Author(s) Pallotta, D.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2013  
Editor P. Cunningham (ed.) Identities and Citizenship Education: Controversy, crisis and challenges  
Age group -  
The repercussions of domestic violence are often burdened onto children who inevitably face the challenges of becoming citizens in a world which has not offered them other alternatives of being. This paper presents data on domestic violence in Italy and initial results of a professional training course for teachers and social workers aimed at increasing awareness of the damage caused to children exposed to violence against their mothers. The methodology of Multiple Interaction Team Education (MITE) was adopted during teaching and learning. The instruments used were the manuals for teachers, parents and social workers produced by the Universities of Cyprus, Roma Tre, Oradea and Presov (Daphne III Programme -30-CE-03116350015 Project Code JLS/2008/DAP3/AG/1157). Participants were presented with the research findings and completed a short answer questionnaire identifying three main aspects: issues arising from the research, educational actions that they could promote to prevent children from reproducing violence, operational objectives that they could meet within their organization. The results suggest that teachers and social operators have similar responses in all three aspects: dealing with aggressive/passive behaviour, social isolation, poor scholastic performance (issues); creating safe environments where the child is allowed to express their emotions, being a positive and trustworthy role model, promoting non-violence and cooperative learning (educational); being more attentive to the needs of the child, making colleagues aware and collaborating with parents (operational). Of particular interest was the fear expressed by teachers in making incorrect assessments, breaking up families, acting outside of the limits of their role and responsibility despite their commitment to the child’s wellbeing. Mirroring this fear is the frustration highlighted by social operators juggling between the timescales of institutions and those of woman and child elaborating their experience of violence. This paper argues that further training is necessary for adults working with children, to develop and create their full potential as citizens. Keywords: Multiple Interaction Team Education (MITE), professional training, domestic violence, childhood

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