The law of unintended consequences

Today see the roll out of the welfare benefits cap across England, Wales and Scotland. What we are supposed to expect is that this will encourage families to find work or move to a different, cheaper area to live. Sadly, what we may see is a rise in violence and family break up. The Enemy Within, the 2012 report from the charity 4Children, using data from a specially commissioned YouGov Family Violence survey, highlights redundancy, long-term unemployment and serious financial worries as the major contributory factor in family violence. The dual pronged budgetary cuts to benefits and funding of services are thus especially worrying.

Deborah Orr’s opinion piece in this Saturday’s Guardian links a fall in crime figures – contrary to all expectations in the face of high unemployment, low wages and increasing homelessness – to the swamping of public spaces with CCTV. August is not yet upon its of course, with all it’s memories of the riots of 2011 (and other years in the past), but Orr argues that, instead, we have taken, and taken out, our frustrations indoors, away from the prying eyes of cameras. She bases this on a report from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau of a substantial rise in the number of people who visit their offices telling advisers they have been the victims of domestic violence, 13,500 people in 2012, of whom 80% were women: people who had chosen to seek advice rather than criminal prosecution because of the immense practical, emotional and safety issues involved. Indeed, figures from the Office for National Statistics, based on the Crime Survey of England and Wales, suggest that 1.2 million people suffered domestic violence at the hands of partners or relatives last year.

So we have already seen one rise in family violence. We may see yet more. Out of sight but never out of mind.


Filed under Discussion, news reports

2 responses to “The law of unintended consequences

  1. It seems logical that increasing stressors on the family system influences its stability, increasing its vulnerability.

    The family has to be a place of sustenance and support of their members, but can also become a place to dump frustration and helplessness, where emotional support is not always possible.

    Anger acts by violence in a controlled space (the family) can do against the nearest and weakest people (children, women and the elderly).

    In Spain many families in economic problems have returned home to live with their elders…… costs or court fees and difficulty for selling properties make that many couples in conflict cant be divorced…… the lack of economic resources of families, leads to frustration to many young people who until now were used large amounts of money, material goods ….

    These are all situations that suggest an increase in the occurrence of violence in the family, which is usually try to move an image-myth of “Happy Family”, resisting to ask for help (which usually has been cut by the public institutions ).

    It is a black picture for a key institution in the support of the population: The Family..

    J. Alberto Llamazares.
    Resp. Centro Hobetzen Asociación Educativa Berriztu

    • Thank you for your comments.
      You have made an important point that the economic situation, across Europe, has both direct and indirect consequences. The fact that many families are obliged to stay together longer than they might otherwise choose should not be ignored.

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