London domestic violence program to be rolled out across the country

A made-in-London solution to domestic violence is poised to go nationwide.

Original Article:  London Free Press  |  Dan Brown  |  June 5, 2019

The premise: If it works in the Forest City, it should work elsewhere.

“We want to go to Muslim communities in Ontario, but also in Canada at large,” said Mohammed Baobaid, the founder and executive director of the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration.

Although adapted and translated to work in a Muslim context, Baobaid says there’s no reason why it can’t work for other groups as well.

The intervention program “for men who have abused, neglected or exposed their children to domestic violence” is a partnership between Baobaid’s centre and another London agency, Changing Ways.

It will be rolled out across the country. “We’re going to identify different groups that are interested,” Baobaid said, and then train facilitators in those locations.

The program aims “to make sure that fathers understand the link between violent behaviour and their children’s reaction. That is the essence of the program,” he explained.

The fact it was developed in London after a 17-week pilot project is in keeping with London’s historic position as a test market for the rest of the country.

Companies from McDonald’s to Tim Hortons have tested their products in the Forest City before launching them across the country, using Londoners as guinea pigs to see if a new product will fly in other markets.

Although aimed at Muslim fathers, Baobaid said it “absolutely” could be adapted for other communities.

“We wanted to take the program and make it more culturally meaningful” to Muslims in London, he noted. But that doesn’t mean Muslim men are more violent than non-Muslims, he added.

He says the lessons he has learned in his more than 30 years of research could be applied in Windsor, Calgary or anywhere else in our country.

“If something is working well, you don’t compromise the core values of the program,” he said.

Baobaid previously worked as a men’s counselor at Changing Ways.

The other lead on the project is the University of Toronto’s Katreena Scott, the Canada Research Chair in Family Violence Prevention and Intervention.