A group for boys who witnessed violence in the home

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Swanink, Jolanda
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The literature on children who witness violence in the home indicated that they may have social, emotional, and behavioural problems, and may even be abused themselves. A group for children of abused mothers was created to address the issues of violence in the home. A working relationship with the parents to support them in coping with their children's behaviour and any reactions they may have to the group was also established. The group ran for 10-weeks for 1 1/2 hours. It occurred at The Family Centre of Winnipeg. Four boys, ages nine to eleven years, participated in the group. Two parent information evenings were designed for the mothers. All four boys and their mothers participated in a post group interview. To evaluate the practicum, the boys' completed the Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale and The Children Witness Violence Interview. Each participant completed a feedback questionnaire. The group was co-facilitated by a male practitioner. The conclusions of the practicum supported the literature that children who witness violence are a heterogeneous population and that children with mild to moderate behaviour problems are suitable for a time-limited dosed group. However, a longer term group was recommended by the workers and children to deal with issues of nonviolent conflict resolution and anger. All the mothers' noted some changes in their sons' behaviour. The experience confirmed that children need support in breaking the silence and to have their feelings validated.