Stopping Violence Programmes – one size does not fit all
At a hui for anti-violence providers in Auckland on Feb 16th, Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier told the participants that too many offenders were dropping out of anti-violence programmes, possibly partly because of the current “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Boshier asked: “If there is a one-off act of violence, which is limited to and caused by a certain context, should we really be requiring offenders to attend a programme that assumes the violence is a continuous or systematic feature of the respondent’s relationships?”
Before anyone gets excited at the prospect of meaningful reform, they should read this month’s NZ Centre for Political Research Guest Forum, where Stuart Birks questions whether Judge Boshier will be able to stand up to “pressures from vested interests and those who frame issues and manipulate the policy agendas.”
In an article titled Rethinking Stopping Violence Programmes Birks points out that we do not have clear evidence that stopping violence programmes work at all, and even less evidence that Boshier’s proposed changes would be effective.
…one of the most puzzling aspects to me is that we allow interference in our lives to an extreme degree, up to and including the routine destruction of relationships between parents and their children. This is permitted despite the open admission that the theories are questionable, the data are problematic, and the effectiveness of the interventions is unknown. The people proposing and implementing these policies are subject to limited accountability and may not have the training, skills, experience, awareness and impartiality to justify our confidence in them.