On Thursday September 7, 2017, the Hubertine Auclert Center* presented the Regional Council for the Ile de France region, with a report entitled “Better Protection and Support for Children, Co-victims of Domestic Violence”. Just a few days earlier, the Ministry of the Interior had announced that in 2016, domestic violence was responsible for the death of 25 children.
The report was initiated by INSEE’s observation that domestic violence was being widely underestimated: “In France, an average, of 143,000 children live in homes where women have declared being sexually and/or physically abused by their partner, with two thirds of the children witnessing repeated abuse; and 42% of the children are under age 6.”
The Shaken Baby Syndrome is also reported on a regular basis. Every year, 200 babies are victims from this type of abuse.
One can observe reticence in reporting child abuse. In fact, people appear ready to intercede when they see a woman being abused in public. However, for a child, they tend to be reluctant to get involved in “family affairs”. “People do not feel collectively responsible” reports Anne Larcher, Director of “CFPE-Enfants Disparus”(French Center for Children Protection), who coordinates the crisis hotline center within the telephone number “116 000”.
In the hope of breaking the silence and this reticence “to get involved in other people’s business” the previous minister, Laurence Rossignol, under François Holland’s regime, presented an inter-ministerial plan to combat child abuse on March 1st, with the slogan: “Child in danger? If in doubt, react!”
The main themes addressed in this regional report are the following:
- Take greater account of the protection of children in situations of marital violence.
- Reinforce child protection in court decisions concerning parental authority for marital violence cases.
- Acknowledge, by penal law, that the child is a victim of psychological abuse when he is exposed to marital violence.
- Reinforce supportive measures for children, as co-victims to receive specialized care.
Fortunately, domestic violence is not always fatal, but it can have a significant impact on children’s health, behavior and development; not to mention the risk that as adults, they may reproduce the violence they witnessed as a child.
* Center for Equality between Women and Men, an organization created in 2009 by the Ile-de-France Regional Council