July 2, 1998 * Vol . 12, No. 5

Grants bolster research on violence against women and children

The ongoing fight against violence against women and children recently enlisted two new allies in the form of grants by the Vancouver Foundation and the federal government to the B.C./Yukon FREDA Centre for Research, Education, Development and Action Centre.

Housed at Simon Fraser University's Harbour Centre campus and affiliated with the school of crim-inology, FREDA brings together community groups and academics "committed to eliminating violence against women and children."

FREDA is also part of the national, university-based Alliance of Five Violence Research Centres (AFVRC). The $250,000 federal grant from the Status of Women Canada will be used by the alliance to research and plan a national action strategy for the prevention of violence against female children.

The $22,500 Vancouver Foundation grant supports research on the laws and social policies affecting women and children who are leaving violent relationships. "We want to find out what happens in times of crisis, in the ER, when you call 911, or when hospital policies, or social workers get involved," says Dr. Yasmin Jiwani, executive coordinator of FREDA.

For Don Johnston, of the Vancouver Foundation, this project will "bring a cohesive approach to dealing with this important issue. While we've come a long way in our understanding of issues related to violence against women and children, we need to be constantly vigilant in ensuring that policies and procedures put in place respond to the needs of those we are trying to support."

Each of the centres is gathering information on different issues. They'll meet in October to pool their results and develop recommendations.

The FREDA researchers have already discovered there's little specific data available. "There's material on children but nothing specific to girls," says Jiwani. "We want to find out about the life experience of young girl children and what steps would prevent violence affecting them. We plan to document and bring together information on the issues that impact on the girl child: sexual abuse, wardship, eating disorders, suicide, depression, the entire range of problems."

Community-based research plans include focus groups in several parts of the province and interviews with front-line service providers. "We're very grateful for the support we've received from the federal government, the Vancouver Foundation and the SFU president's fund," says Jiwani. "With their help we hope to identify what works and where the system fails, creating an inventory of services and resources throughout B.C."

FREDA is funded by Health Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. It supports and undertakes research with community groups on issues concerning violence against women and children. It also has links to SFU women's studies and the school of nursing at UBC. For more information on FREDA programs call 291-5197.

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