Children Living with Domestic Violence Research Team

The Children Living with Domestic Violence Research Team conducts research on risk assessment, risk management, and safety planning for children exposed to domestic violence.

The Children Living with Domestic Violence Research Team is co-led by:

Dr. Peter Jaffe, Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children

Dr. Myriam Dubé, Université du Québec à Montréal

For the purpose of our research we define Child Homicide in the Context of Domestic Violence as:

  1. Child(ren) killed as a result of intervening during a violent episode between parents;
  2. Child(ren) killed by a parent as revenge against the partner (e.g. partner ended relationship; other perceived betrayal);
  3. Child(ren) killed by a parent as part of a murder-suicide;
  4. Child(ren) killed by parent and there is a history of domestic violence (e.g. perpetrator of child homicide was a victim and/or perpetrator of domestic violence)
  5. Child(ren) killed by a third party (e.g. older sibling) at the direction of a parent. 

parent = includes biological parent, step-parent, foster parent, and/or other caregivers (e.g. mother/father's new intimate partner, other family member acting in a caregiving role)

history of domestic violence = official (e.g. police reports) or unofficial (reported by friends, family members) history of domestic violence in the current relationship
Note: Information on the perpetrator motive/intention may not be available - the key idea of this definition is that domestic violence is involved in the child death.

child - a person who is under the age of 18.

Fact Sheets [coming soon]


Assessing Children's Risk for Homicide in the Context of Domestic Violence

Assessing Children’s Risk for Homicide in the Context of Domestic Violence The researchers conducted a retrospective case study of 84 cases of domestic homicide, where adults or children were targeted victims, and assessed the unique factors that place a child at risk of lethality in the context of domestic violence. Overall, there were no significant differences amongst cases involving children on major risk factors except for the higher number of agencies involved with the families that had children. One of the major findings was that very few of the cases had a safety plan or risk assessment completed. The findings speak to the importance of conducting risk assessments and creating safety plans that include children in cases of domestic violence.

Children Experiencing Domestic Violence: A Research Review

This is a thorough and in-depth report that addresses many aspects of domestic violence. These aspects include (1) a description of what is known about domestic violence, such as prevalence, risk factors, patterns etc., (2) the impact of domestic violence on children, (3) domestic violence and parenting, (4) the influence of violence in young individual’s intimate relationships, (5) response to violence- screening, assessment, and engagement, (6) interventions, and (7) interagency collaboration.

Children in Danger of Domestic Homicide

This brief provides a concise outline of the prevalence of child domestic homicide in the context of domestic violence. Additionally, the brief addresses myths regarding which children are at risk, and promising practices to accurately identify those children at risk. Lastly, the brief provides readers with additional resources to access regarding children and domestic violence.

Domestic and Family Violence and its Relationship to Child Protection

This is a comprehensive paper that provides readers with an in-depth understanding of domestic and family violence. The paper provides definitions, an evaluation of the dynamics and extent of impact, the effects of child exposure, characteristics of typical perpetrators, safety planning, and current legislation in Queensland.

Domestic Homicides and Children who Witness them

This paper addresses the concerning issue of children who witness the murder of a parent in the context of domestic violence. The paper briefly explores the prevalence of the issue in Australia, as well as the negative consequences it has for children. Lastly, the paper focuses on the aftermath of the homicide for children, specifically how it impacts their family relationships and future living situations.

Effectiveness of Risk Assessment Tools in Differentiating Child Homicides From Other Domestic Homicide Cases

These researchers conducted a retrospective study on 40 cases of domestic homicides to analyze the effectiveness of using risk assessment tools for adult victims of domestic violence (DA, ODARA, and B-SAFER) to measure the risk of lethality for children in the context of domestic violence. Domestic homicide cases with adult victims were compared to domestic homicide cases with child victims. The results revealed no differences between the two groups in terms of risk assessment tools. This implies that children should be considered at risk for lethality if the adult female partner is at risk.

From the Learning Network: A list of resources on Children Exposed to Domestic Violence

The VAW Learning Network has a network area on children exposed to domestic violence.  The network area contains resources, tools, and information on the incidence/prevalence of children exposed to domestic violence; the impact of exposure on children; intervention and prevention strategies including evaluations; public education/social marketing campaigns; training for professionals who work with children exposed; and children’s lived experience of domestic violence.

Health Care Professionals’ Role in Preventing Child Homicides in the Context of Domestic Violence

This paper highlights the risks faced by children who are exposed to domestic violence, specifically the risk of domestic homicide in the most severe cases. The researchers focus on the predictability and preventability of such cases based on the risk factors that were present prior to the homicide. The paper suggests that health care professionals need to be vigilant in their identification of child risk of lethality, as adult parents who are at heightened risk for lethality, consequently have children who are at a heightened risk.

Honouring Christian Lee. No Private Matter: Protecting Children Living with Domestic Violence

A public inquest was held in the province of British Columbia on April 2008 and December 2009 into the deaths of Sun Yong (Sunny) Park, Christian Thomas Jin Young Lee, Kum Lea Chun, Moon Kyu Park, and Hyun Joon (Peter) Lee. Peter Lee was on bail facing domestic violence charges when he killed his estranged wife, Sunny Park, his six-year old son, Christian Thomas Lee, and his estranged wife's parents, Kum Lea Chun and Moon Kyu Park. Following the murders, Peter Lee took his own life. In 2009, the Representative for Children and Youth prepared a report titled 'Honouring Christian Lee. No Private Matter: Protecting Children Living with Domestic Violence' which detailed the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Christian Lee and his family, the missed opportunities or gaps in service provision experienced by this family, and recommendations for improvements to service, practice or policy that could prevent similar deaths in the future.

Honouring Kaitlynne, Max and Cordon: Make Their Voices Heard Now (March 2012)

The Representative for Children and Youth in British Columbia investigated the deaths of Kaitlynne (10), Max (8) and Cordon (5), three B.C. children killed by their father on April, 6, 2008. These children lived with domestic violence, untreated parental mental illness, and addictions. Despite professional involvement on numerous occasions, a domestic violence lens was not used in dealing with this family. This discrepancy was evidenced by the workers divulging the fact that they had no training in working with families experiencing domestic violence. The Representative believes that the children’s right to safety was compromised by a lack of collaborative, professional child protection practice. Overall, shortcomings in the mental health system similarly failed this family.

Inquest into the death of: Andrew Osidacz and Jared Osidacz

After killing his son, Jared Osidacz (8), Andrew Osidacz held a knife to the throat of his estranged wife when he was shot and killed by two Brantford police officers. The inquest into the death of Andrew Osidacz and Jared Osidacz recommends that the Ministry of the Attorney General take a leadership role in creating an inter-ministerial committee that methodically reviews all community, agency and government domestic violence initiatives to identify redundancies and/or gaps. Among many other suggestions, it is recommended that a process to share information among service providers through case conferencing is established.

Taking Action on Domestic Violence in British Columbia

This booklet is a review of the action plan created by the British Columbia government in response to a report developed by the Representative for Children and Youth’s (RCY), which examined the lives and deaths of children who were exposed to domestic violence. The action plan focuses on strengthening the province’s response to domestic violence in order to enhance the safety of children, women, families, and communities. This booklet provides an overview of British Columbia’s initiatives, their systemic approach, as well as their overall action plan.

Twenty-Nine Child Homicides: Lessons Still to be Learnt on Domestic Violence and Child Protection

This report investigates 29 child homicide cases that occurred as a result of parental contact arrangements in England and Wales. The researchers from the Women’s Aid addressed a number of concerns regarding the children’s safety, specifically whether or not the government and/or court system appropriately assigned contact orders or intervened in each case. Moreover, the researchers evaluated whether or not lessons were learnt by the government from earlier cases of child homicide and applied as intervention in more recent cases. Lastly, the Women’s Aid provided a series of recommendations of assigning appropriate contact orders, which enhance the safety of children.