Until recently, the family setting was a safe haven for people and crime only happened in the streets. However, this reality has been distorted by the rising crimes that occur in homes among family members (Pagelow & Pagelow, 1984). The family law action and the family violence refer to the aspects of family violence ant the courts role in dealing with violators of this law. This is a bid to protect the innocence of the children. The family law act 1975 section (60 b) stipulates underlying principles that promote their interests. It “protects children from physical and psychological harm, from being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence”.
According to Barnet et al. (2011), family violence refers to violence between family member’s i.e. husbands, wives, children and parents. The APA dictionary of psychology defines domestic violence as “any action by a person that causes physical harm to one or more members of his or her family unit” (p.23).Family violence can be learned through cultural values which are repeatedly communicated through media and institutions that tolerate it. Alcohol and drug abuse could be another force of family violence. According to Halter & Varcarolis (2014), alcohol and drugs cloud one’s judgment (p. 540). However; alcohol could be used as a scapegoat to avoid arrests and punishment when caught in the act. Anger is another force that could cause people to be entrapped in family violence. Lack of skills to handle anger and stress may cause overwhelming problems for both victim and perpetrator as forms of communications may have broken down (p.11). Psychological conditions such as bipolar may contribute to cases of violence. Such conditions should be treated and people informed of the condition in case of an attack.
In all different cases discussed above aggression stands out as perpetrators of violence use this tool to overpower their victims. It is also important for afflicted families and individuals to come out and seek the protection of the law and access counseling services.
Physical child abuse
The children’s act 38 of 2005 gives clear outlines children’s rights and parents responsibilities towards children. The law has provisions of protection against physical child abuse. Many facets have been associated with child abuse. These include individual pathology, parent –child interaction, past abuse in the family and situational factors. (Bryant, 2011) discusses different theories of physical abuse according to Crosson-Tower (2008) which are linked to the children’s act of 2005.
The pathology theory focuses on the idea that abusers have personality or biology makeup issues. The issues may include anger control problems, low tolerance for frustrations, rigidity or being disorganized. Such instances point to parent’s failure to manage their lives, therefore, intruding into their children’s lives. Such parents may not be in a position to empathize with their children and expose them to ridicule and physical punishment. Parent child relationship theory explains the types of parents who are prone to abuse their children and children likely to be abused. So parents concentrate on children’s the wrong instead of achievements and offer no praise. In this theory, the child may assume the responsibility of the care giver .The less skilled parent has a negative perception of the child and sees nothing in them.
Social learning or past abuse theory concentrates not only on what children learn or experience but also what they do not learn as a result of the experiences. The abusive parents become role models. Such children believe that violence is acceptable as a method of child rearing and discipline, (Crosson-Tower, 2008). It is crucial to note that not all children in abusive homes become abusive in their later years. Those who break the cycle maintain a healthy relation with those that supported them emotionally while growing up.
Child sexual abuse
Every society has established rules that govern mating or sexual intercourse. The prohibition to mate with certain relatives is known as an incest taboo. The most universal form of an incest taboo involves mating between members of the nuclear family. The protection of children from sexual offenses Act, 2012 is a comprehensive law provided to protect children from all forms of violence by incorporating friendly mechanisms to report, record, and investigate and trial of offences through special courts.
The inbreeding theory explains the existence of the incest taboo focuses on and the potential harm it causes to the family. The theory was proposed before the introduction genetics which holds that mating between family members may produce children with genetic defects. Evidence to support this information is lacking. Outbreeding which is practiced by human populations has positive benefits such as an increase in genetic variation, improved health and lower rates of mortality. This is because the inbreeding theory elicits different views among the legislatures. The theory focuses on the biological consequences of incest (Ferraro & Andreatta, 2010).
The family disruption theory associated to Bronislaw Malinowski, 1927 holds that mating between mother and son, brother and sister, father and daughter will lead to jealousy and disrupt the family’s ability to function as a unit. For example if this kind of arrangements would be allowed, it would unhealthy competition for sexual satisfaction leading to conflict. This theory originated to repress sexual urges within the nuclear family. This also would cause the problem of the role ambiguity within a family setting. The theory holds that there is more to be gained when one marries from another group. Marrying from different families strengthens social ties. This theory endeavors to create a wider social network of inter family alliances (Ferraro & Andreatta, 2010).
Characteristics of a spousal abuser
The family act of 1975 shields victims of violence from violent actions by abusers. In this case, we will discuss the spousal abusers. The perpetrators have low self-esteem and build dependency on women perceived as ‘winner’ and gain satisfaction through their partner’s accomplishments. When they lose control they dominate and feel superior to their women. In such scenarios, the abuser is comfortable in isolation and may have difficulties in building and maintaining close and personal ties within the family and outside.
The perpetrators are also traditional in that they believe in the patriarchal system, male supremacy and stereotyped the masculinity. They have authoritarian styles of leadership in the family and esteem persons of higher authority. They are very moody and may pose as loving husbands, mothers and sometimes with no apparent reasons revert to anger. This is sometimes referred to as dual personalities where a victim’s mood suddenly changes. In this state, they are unable to express their feelings. They are often unemployed, underemployed or are dissatisfied with their jobs. They may also be very unproductive and unorganized when executing their work. This causes problems in the work place as they pass off as unreliable and demotivated in their duties (Pagelow & Pagelow, 1984).
Abusers lack assertiveness which results to aggression to get what they want. They lack a sense of direction which makes it difficult for people to get reach them. In some instances the aggressor may result to absconding all his duties due to the belief of being inefficient and unproductive. The aggressors shift to alcohol and are highly dependent. Alcohol helps the aggressor to escape from troubles. If the aggressor was socialized or brought up where alcohol consumption was associated with drunken behavior (Pagelow & Pagelow, 1984).
Criminal justice response to partner violence
Historically, the criminal justice failed to adequately respond to domestic violence acts within homes. To rectify this situation pro arrest policies were initiated by law enforcement agencies due to activism by feminist groups reacting to police inaction. The changes made in the 1980’s focused on the impact of pro arrest when dealing with battered women. The crime of intimate violence then was largely viewed as a private issue rather than a social problem as legal and social institutions preferred the hands-off-approach (Schmidt, & Sherman 1996).
The Minneapolis domestic violence that sort to evaluate the effectiveness of police responses was implemented in 1981-1982 by Lawrence Sherman who was director of the police foundation. The design called the police to randomly select three categories of offenders who would face arrest, forced separation from their spouse and forced counseling. The findings for this response bent towards arrest as the more effective response. Those that faced arrest had lower rates of committing the offence again as opposed to those who went through counseling or spouses separated from them (Sherman &Cohn, 1989).
Sherman & Cohn (1989) hold that the subsequent experiments commissioned by the institute of justice were required to address domestic violence incidents that drew police attention. They were also to use see repeat offenders determine the extent and use arrests as one of the treatments. The results from these tests showed variation as no one state recorded similar results as Minneapolis. The different results recorded were as a result of sites studied, the alternative treatments that were compared to arrests and many more factors. The sites studied include Nebraska, charlotte, Wisconsin, Miami-Dade county, Colorado among others (p.117-144).
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