A program designed to help men break a cycle of domestic violence is coming to Prince Edward Island.
Caring Dads is an intervention program for men who say they have abused or neglected their children, or subjected their children to domestic violence.
“There was no such program in PEI,” said Yoshi Takano of the Department of Psychology at the University of Prince Edward Island. He helped develop the program and trained facilitators who will manage it.
Takano said he implemented the program while working in other provinces and saw the need for it at PEI as well.
Group sessions of 10-12 men will be held once a week for 17 weeks beginning in the fall. Men are referred to the program or are required to complete it through corrections or child and family services, but those interested may step forward and come to the program themselves.
“Part of those group sessions is having really in-depth discussions about how to be the best dad,” Takano said. “When the dads come into the group, we talk about it at length… how can we [be] the best dad? And how can we contribute to children’s health?”
Become a “child-centric parent.”
The idea, Takano said, is for fathers to focus on their children’s well-being, not themselves.
“How can dads become the child-centric parents rather than the parent-centric parents?” he said, adding that it’s “really understanding the kids’ experiences and listening to the kids and collaborating with the kids and nurturing the kids, rather than how You know, using force and an abusive approach involves.”
The modules or steps ask men to examine how they were conceived when they were children themselves versus what kind of fathers they want to be and work to build skills to make that happen.
There’s a big stereotype that men can’t or won’t change.– Danya O’Malley
The program is used in other provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta, as well as in the USA, England and Australia.
Takano said it has been shown to be effective in reducing recurrence or recurrence.
“Works to repair the relationship”
Danya O’Malley, Managing Director of PEI Family Violence Prevention Services, is excited about the program. In fact, she was one of about 50 people who completed the Caring Dads presenter training, as were some of her staff.
“It’s definitely an evidence-based program that works to repair the family relationship when a father has done harm, either by directly abusing the children or by exposing the children to domestic violence against the mother,” she said.
She calls the program unique as there is no other program that has this goal. It’s also a program designed to help rather than punish.
“People who go through this program gain insights into their own behavior and insights into the value of positive relationships with their children,” she said.
“They are very respectful of the consequences of their abusive actions. And this is done in a skill-building way so that it doesn’t happen again.”
Not only will men be parents in a different, more loving way, she said, but their children will also have a different blueprint for how they will eventually behave as parents — breaking the cycle of learned family violence.
“It has an impact on the generations and on the children in these families.”
“There’s a big stereotype that men can’t or won’t change,” she said, but “a lot of them actually want to change — they just don’t really have a plan to get there. Sometimes they think they’re going to change.” be able?
Caring Dads was developed 20 years ago. O’Malley said programs like this really work.
“It’s encouraging and I’m glad it’s getting more attention.”