This report, which is in keeping with studies done in the United Kingdom and Canada, was highlighted by Regional Technical Director of the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA), Dr. Michel Coombs at a Town Hall Meeting focused on domestic violence on Wednesday, May 31 at the Mandeville Baptist Church in Manchester.
"The report further indicated that single mothers in households with children, are more than ten times more likely to experience intimate partner violence when compared to households with married adults with children" Dr. Coombs informed the audience.
He added that: "The fourth United States National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect, revealed that children of single moms cohabiting or in a visiting relationship with a male who is not the children’s biological father, are 17 times more likely to experience physical or sexual abuse, than children living with married biological parents, in particular their married fathers".
The Regional Technical Director who is also founder and Chair of the National Association for the Family, pointed out that a 2005 report published in the Journal of Pediatrics, indicated that a child living with a single mom in a relationship with a male who is not the child’s father, is almost 50 times more likely to die from inflicted injuries than a child living with their married biological parents.
Dr. Coombs argued that in Jamaica, with traditional marriages on the decline, and cohabitation on the increase, resulting in 85% of births being
to unmarried mothers, family structure and instability are undoubtedly fueling the scourge of domestic violence plaguing the society. "Based on these statistics, there is need for Jamaica’s national response to such violence, to go beyond punitive measures for perpetrators, education, detection, treatment and support for victims, to promoting healthy parental marriage, especially among its youth. This would be a key protective factor and strategy to break the intergenerational cycles of family violence, which from compelling evidence, fuels violence in the wider society. A violence free society begins with violence free homes" Dr. Coombs explained.
The public forum, an event under the SRHA’s ‘Good Health Begins at Home’ programme was held under the theme of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's initiative ‘Love me to Live. Don’t Love me to death’. It incorporated the involvement of the SRHA, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Manchester Health Department, the National Parenting Support Commission, the Child Development Agency, youth groups, the Mandeville Baptist Church and other churches in Manchester.
Concerns and recommendations were documented and will be forwarded to the relevant authorities.