Journal Issue: Domestic Violence and Children Volume 9 Number 3 Winter 1999
Building Research Capacity
Increased awareness of the complexity of the problem of child exposure to domestic violence and increased demands for more precise data occur at a time of cutbacks in government intervention and basic funding for child victimization research.36 Limited funding places a premium on the research community's ability to build capacity for high-quality research, and demands a strategic research agenda that capitalizes on existing resources and is based on genuine research partnerships. The following five-phase strategy will promote the development of greater research capacity.37
In phase one of this strategy, researchers must identify existing data sets that could increase knowledge about children exposed to domestic violence.38 The second phase entails the use of findings from existing data sets to forge partnerships with strategic community institutions to investigate the prevalence of children exposed to domestic violence. In the third phase, researchers must develop tracking systems that identify children exposed to domestic violence in the crime reporting process. For example, researchers in a number of cities are working with police departments to modify incident reports to include such information and to develop databases that can link arrest records, judicial decisions, and other relevant agency information.39 In the fourth phase, a classification of child exposure to domestic violence must be developed, to enhance research precision.5 For a single incident, information could include the type, intensity, duration, and frequency of exposure, as well as the degree of the child's physical and psychological involvement in the incident. This type of classification system would help researchers gain a more accurate assessment of the factors that are hypothesized to be most harmful to children. In the final phase, researchers must forge additional linkages with those community agencies that serve large numbers of vulnerable children to begin a dialogue with parents on violence and safety, and to establish and validate developmentally appropriate measures of child and family functioning for low-income, urban populations. In addition, strong relationships between researchers and communities will facilitate researchers' ability to evaluate children in their natural environments, conduct longitudinal studies of multiple risk factors, and complete well-controlled outcome evaluations of treatment and prevention programs for children and families.