More education needed to prevent domestic violence deaths: report

Sask. has highest domestic violence rate of all provinces

Original Article:  CBC News  |  Kendall Latimer  |  May 28, 2018  |

Saskatchewan's recently-released report on domestic violence has highlighted  public education as a means of addressing the province's sky-high rates. 

Saskatchewan has the highest domestic violence rate among all provinces.

Last week, the province released a report on how domestic homicides could be prevented in the province. It was created by a panel of 13 experts and included 19 recommendations.

The report's authors suggested the province work to help youth learn about healthy relationships and include conflict resolution in school curriculums.

"It's critical. I think it's urgent to bring education and awareness right from a very young age right up to post-secondary," said Karen Wood, adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan and a community research consultant.

Wood spoke Monday in Regina at a two-day domestic violence conference titled "Applying Evidence to Prevent Violence" that included police, researcher and survivors. The conference is hosted by the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS).

Wood said education on violence can be brought up in the classroom without being disuptive.

"A lot of folks, I think, are concerned about this kind of programming, talking about violence and abuse with young children and even right up to post-secondary," she said.

"It's not about doom and gloom and hurt and pain. It's about healthy boundaries and assertion and safety."

Wood said engaging youth in conversations about relationships as they are developing their communication and interaction skills could lead to prevention of future domestic abuse.

"In my opinion, it would be very important to start as soon as possible."

The report recommended the province "develop a comprehensive program that focuses on building education and awareness about healthy relationships and how to prevent and respond to situations of domestic violence and abuse."

Education should begin in the early years and continue throughout adulthood, it said.

Wood said if the critical recommendations put forth in the report aren't followed, the province will "continue to have the highest rates of all the provinces of domestic homicide and violence."

In an email, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said "the government is going to be working with its stakeholders and community partners to find the best way to respond to the recommendations in the report."