Violence at homeruins young lives
THREE TO five children in each Jewish classroom on average are exposed to domestic violence at home, a new report claims.
The survey, commissioned by Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA), follows a Metropolitan police report suggesting that similarly large numbers of children had experienced such violence in the general population. The charity wanted to find out whether the statistic also applied to Jewish children, and found that it did.
Its research was based on questionnaires given to children and on information gathered from those using its services.
Abigail Morris, chief executive of JWA, said: “This new research gives all of us cause for concern.
“Children are, sadly, more exposed to domestic violence than we had previously thought, and Jewish children are no exception.”
This is often a hidden problem, she said, particularly within the Jewish community, which places great emphasis on family and the home.
“This means that many of the women affected feel they are the only ones and will suffer a lot more abuse before they come forward,” Ms Morris said.
“The effect on the children is awful. A common problem is that it affects their self-esteem. Often, they can’t sleep and it begins to affect their schoolwork.”
Seeing domestic violence at home also means that children do not see a positive model of a relationship, she added. Children in these situations see their parents locked in a cycle of victim and perpetrator.
“Many children also start acting like parents, trying to look after and protect their mothers.
“And it’s difficult, because they love their fathers too.”
Some of the children are also physically abused themselves.
Ms Morris added that the number of Jewish women using JWA’s services is “growing exponentially”.
“The Jewish community mirrors the wider population in this problem,” she said.
She suggested that in fact there might be a higher proportion of Jewish children affected by domestic violence than children in wider society, because some members of the Jewish community have more children than the national average.
JWA was established in 1992. It is run by and for Jewish women and their children who have experienced domestic abuse. It runs a refuge in London which houses up to eight women and their children.