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University of East London academic leading study on children affected by domestic abuse

PUBLISHED: 10:00 11 July 2020

The University of East London campus. Picture: Google Maps

The University of East London campus. Picture: Google Maps

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An academic from the University of East London is set to head up the first major study to focus on specific interventions for children who have experienced domestic violence and abuse (DVA).

Dr Emma Howarth, a senior lecturer from the University of East London's school of psychology, is heading up a major study into the specific interventions for children who have experienced domestic violence and abuse. Picture: Dr Emma HowarthDr Emma Howarth, a senior lecturer from the University of East London's school of psychology, is heading up a major study into the specific interventions for children who have experienced domestic violence and abuse. Picture: Dr Emma Howarth

Dr Emma Howarth, a senior lecturer at the university’s school of psychology, said: “DVA, and children’s experience of it, is a major public health concern.

“With even higher rates reported during the Covid-19 lockdown, this research is needed now more than ever.

“Children who live with DVA are victims in their own right, who may experience the consequences of abuse throughout their whole lives.”

The study — which will assess 64 families — is part of an overall evaluation of CODA (Children Overcoming Domestic Abuse); a community support programme delivered across the UK since 2009.

Developed by the Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) charity, the programme has been positively received, with this study intended to address the knowledge gaps that remain in terms of children.

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Dr Howarth praised “forward-thinking” AVA for allowing its programme to be subjected “to independent evaluation of this kind”.

In the first phase, interventions will be trialled by Cardiff Women’s Aid and Family Action in Southend.

It will be possible to self-refer onto the study, though the majority are expected to come from agencies or GPs.

The first phase will take place through a mixture of online and face-to-face sessions, with latter phases to be determined by the findings of the first.

Verity Brown, the university’s pro-vice chancellor of impact and innovation, said: “This is a landmark study, which will establish the most effective evidence-based support for children who experience a parent or caregiver being subjected to violence, with the potential for its findings to have a positive impact globally.”

Dr Howarth says at the moment “children are not seen on a par with adult victims”.

Jo Sharpen, AVA’s director of policy and projects, said: “This research will allow us the opportunity to work with a world-leading group of researchers who will learn more about our trauma-informed, psycho-educational programme.”


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