POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 89 Child custody/access After separation, many batterers use the issue of legal child custody as a means to threaten and control their former spouses. The period immediately after separation is a very high-risk period for abuse and killing of mothers. In a recent study, it was found that of 1,157 wife assault cases tracked through the Nova Scotia justice system, 24 percent of victims suffered abuse while their male partners were exercising court-ordered child visitation. Wife assault should be considered a major factor in child custody cases, as the effects on mothers and children are so serious. Children's mental health/Children's groups The high incidence and serious effects of witnessing wife assault make it a prime issue in children's mental health. Groups for children who have witnessed violence are an important service. In group situations, children can learn safety skills for themselves in abusive situations. They can learn that no one has the right to abuse another and that they are not responsible for the abuse. They can also learn alternative ways to handle conflict without violence. Individual treatment, and treatment for depression, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder and aggressive behaviour may also be needed, depending on the child's adjustment. Shelters and advocacy for battered women Support services for battered women, through shelters, legal, housing and financial supports, all have a major positive impact on the accompanying children. Without such services, many more children will continue to witness abuse. Schools Schools are in contact with hundreds of thousands of child witnesses of woman abuse in Canada each year. Professional development for teachers, as well as the development of school protocols to deal with and assist such children are very important. Prevention Schools and community resources cooperating in awareness programs constitute the best hope to educate all community members about the effect of witnessing abuse on families and children. Effective programs are available and can be implemented at low cost. (...Wife Abuse - The Impact on Children continued) 2007/07/miz... Estimates of the proportion of children of abused women who witness the violence range from 40 to 80 percent. The consensus of opinion is that children see, overhear or are aware of the majority of violent incidents. Best estimates indicate that three to five children in every Canadian school classroom have witnessed their mother being assaulted. In many cases children witness severe violence. Health Canada Santé Canada