With statistics showing that one in three women and girls will be exposed to domestic violence at some point in their lives, an initiative to fight the problem will soon begin in Barbados.
The scheme, which involves the use of computer game technology, is part of None in Three, a two-year project for tackling domestic violence in the Caribbean. It is led by the University of Huddersfield in England in partnership with several governmental and non-governmental agencies in the region, and will be rolled out first in Barbados and Grenada.
Professor of Social Work at the Centre for Applied Child, Family and Youth Research at the University of Huddersfield Professor Adele Jones pointed out that one of the exciting features of the project was an anti-violence video game, Jessie, which is aimed at generating empathy among children and young adults as a long-term prevention tool to help change attitudes towards domestic violence.
“It is a game that both boys and girls can play and we will be piloting it in the schools when the new academic year starts,” Jones said at a training workshop on Preventing Domestic Violence at United Nations House.
“There is a growing body of research that shows violence in computer games can contribute to aggression and violence, but research also shows that pro-social games can build children’s cognitive and attention skills in different ways, and we are working with professors who specialize in computer game technology to accomplish that.”
Jones said the None in Three project “builds on the excellent work already being carried out in the region, and seeks to add value to that work in different ways”.
One of the points raised in the discussions was that children copy what they see, an observation that had been confirmed by the first regional survey on children who have experienced domestic violence. That survey, Jones said, covered 1,400 children and young people and the results will be released within the next two weeks.
She added that under the None in Three project, research would be conducted on the groups most vulnerable to domestic violence, including members of the disabled community, same-sex couples, women with HIV/AIDS and pregnant women.
“We will also be working with men to examine the causes, as well as how men who are victims of abuse are treated,” Jones added.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, deputy representative at the United Nations Women’s Multi-Cultural Office for the Caribbean Tonni Brodber pointed out that domestic violence was multifaceted and cyclical.
“What we see is what we do, and not only is it a dysfunctional cycle but it is comprehensive. Also, surveys have found that some women, a lot of the men interviewed, and many young people did not recognize key characteristics of domestic violence, such as sexual violence and economic violence. It seems as though they just considered them the way things should be between a couple,” she said.