Students are required to submit their individually written research proposal. (Word Count: 2500 words).
The research proposal should be realistic and follow the following format (refer to Walter 2013, pp. 43 – 46 for a detailed explanation of what should be contained within each of these section headings).
➢ Research aims
➢ Literature review and/or background to the topic/issue
➢ Budget and resources required
➢ Dissemination of results
➢ Reference list
Family and Domestic Violence Impact on Australian Children’s Mental Health.
” Family And Domestic Violence Impact On Australian Children’s Mental Health “ is the title of this proposed report.
The issue of domestic violence is quite prominent in Australia and this is responsible for impacting children residing with these families. The current research focuses on exploring the implications of a violent family environment on the mental health of a child in Australia. The scope of the research is limited to factors that cause domestic violence in families with children within Australia and the consequences. The research is expected to devise or recommend social measures that can be adopted for predicting mental health among children living in violent families.
The research will adopt a primary qualitative strategy through an interview schedule. The interview will include social workers who have closely worked with children coming from violent families and have developed mental health problems. The findings will be analysed using thematic analysis while following the ethical consideration of research in this field. The current report also highlights a timetable for the research while pointing out the resources and the budget required for achieving project goals. The findings from the research can potentially help non-profit and welfare organisations to increase awareness about child mental healthcare and measures that can be adopted as a society to improve it.
The study aims to analyse the impact of domestic violence in the family on the mental health of children in Australia.
The research objectives are as follows:
- To understand the role of family in a child’s cognitive development in Australia
- To explore the causes of domestic violence in families with children
- To determine the mental health issues developed by children residing in violent family environments
- To suggest social measures for protecting the mental health of children living with violent families
The research questions are as follows:
- What is the role of family in a child’s cognitive development in Australia?
- What are the causes of domestic violence in families with children?
- What are the mental health issues developed by children residing in violent family environments?
- What social measures can be adopted to protect the mental health of children living with violent families?
Function of a family in a child’s development
Cognitive development refers to the ability of an individual to perceive their surroundings therefore interpreting them based on the interactions they have with their environment. The family is the first unit in society that teaches children to socialise and is also the primary institution of education for children. A family passes on its values to a child and allows the child to understand the type of behaviour that is acceptable in society and that which is unacceptable. The cognitive development of the child in this case includes the identification of morals in society. Next, a family teaches skills to children such as emotional motor and language skills. Motor skills are important for a child to respond to their surroundings and perform basic actions like walking, running, sitting, holding a spoon and more (Sharp et al. 2022). Language skills are necessary for interacting with others and expressing themselves.
Similarly emotional skills are critical in a child’s cognitive development as it incorporates feelings like compassion and sympathy in them. Socialisation is another function of a family where it teaches children how to sustain relationships and have valuable interactions with people around them using immediate responses like body language, facial expressions and more (Orr et al. 2020). Family also is responsible for providing security to a child in terms of clothing, food, shelter, affection and other basic needs, these are factors that need to be in place for a child to have proper cognitive development.
The functions of family can be better understood through stages of cognitive development explained by Jean Piaget. First is the sensorimotor stage which begins at the age of 2 years and family members of parents are responsible for teaching children basic vocabulary through verbal stimulation and participating in their excitement to explore their surroundings. The preoperational stage begins at the age of 2 and lasts till 7 years, and the family encourages the child to develop their imaginary power through role-playing activities. The concrete operational stage changes between 7 to 12 years old where parents and the family help the child develop their logical thought process by helping them identify cause and effect relationships, problem framing and social interactions (Saleme et al. 2023). The formal operation stage ranges from 12 years old to 18 which well when children develop more complicated reasoning by engaging in formal logical operations by participating in conversation with adults.
Reasons for domestic violence
Poverty is a leading cause of domestic violence in Australia which emerges from issues like overcrowded housing. Low social capital and weak communities’ sanctions from domestic violence. Gender identity and inequality can be another factor causing unequal distribution of power and resources in the family resulting in domestic violence. Loss of control over emotions, mental health issues among family members and drug abuse are a few other causes of domestic violence. In terms of the G20 Nations Australia is on 8th rank in terms of domestic violence against women (Micklitz et al. 2023). Other factors like military occupation, multiple spouses, working spouses, and low education among husbands are driving domestic violence in Australia.
Mental health issues among children as an outcome of domestic violence
Children who are exposed to domestic violence often develop developmental health problems such as depression, anxiety and memory loss. Memory issues develop among children who have been exposed to domestic violence in their family as a protective mechanism adopted by their brains where they subconsciously block from traumatic memories. This process can eventually lead to memory loss in some cases therefore impacting a child beyond their years of abuse. They also feel more anxious since people depicting violent behaviour are highly unpredictable, making the child more anxious about physical punishments and abuse at home. The mental exhaustion caused by domestic violence causes depression among these children. These children may struggle more in school and become susceptible to alcohol or drug abuse (Lema et al. 2023). The stress from exposure to violence can cause a lack of focus and learning issues which is responsible for difficult school life for these children.
The propensity to act aggressively is higher among children who have been abused as a result and can potentially engage in criminal activities during adolescence. They develop such behaviour and inclinations based on the interactions they have had in their household from an early age which impacts their cognitive development and understanding of social interactions therefore normalising violent behaviour. With an increased tendency to depict violent behaviour the chances of these children to unintentionally engage in a criminal offence thereby increase. Self-image or self-worth issues can also develop among these children and they may have suicidal ideations because of these self-worth issues (Kuruppu et al. 2023). The constant subjugation to abuse and violence makes an individual doubt themselves and their existence since they are unable to protect themselves and demonstrate the power to avoid or control such situations.
These self-worth ideas eventually grow into suicidal thoughts as the child may suffer from an existential crisis. Considering the long-lasting habit of exposure to domestic violence and abuse in the long run children in their adolescence may take up self-harming activities. This also relates to the development of self-worth issues and suicidal ideation (Hanley et al. 2023). The habit of suffering from physical pain and mental trauma is responsible for children to develop self-harming tendencies.
The proposed method for data collection in the current research is through an interview that will produce descriptive data in a distinct language personal to the participants. Interpretivism philosophy is suggested for understanding the experiences and knowledge presented by the participants. Interpretivism philosophy is suitable for identifying relevant information from descriptive human experience that is expressed by the respondents in terms of their understanding of the problem and language (Bacon-Shone, 2013). Therefore, it will be highly useful for understanding the role played by families in the cognitive development of a child.
The current research needs to identify and analyse the cause and effect of domestic violence in families and its implications on the mental health of children. This can be done through a deductive approach that helps determine the cause and effect between research variables. The deductive approach does not present theory and assumptions which are not eligible for hypothesis (Gartland et al. 2022). It only focuses on demonstrating facts from the information provided by the respondents which potentially is important for data quality retention in the study.
The use of an explanatory design is suggested in the proposed study since the data will be collected through interviews which can be critical to interpret. Explanatory design helps interpret data while combining the personal interpretations of the researcher based on the data collected as well (Flynn & McDermott, 2016). This provides the scope to view the information from a new perspective and even procure solutions or social measures that can potentially be effective in protecting the mental health of children living in violent families.
Data collection method
The current research will only use primary data by using the data collection strategy of an online interview. This will allow the research to retain simple research practices and procedures while the data collected will become easier to interpret due to the lack of complications.
The study will take place for a short span therefore collecting data for a specific period hence cross-sectional study is the suggested time horizon in this research. As a result, the data can be extracted from a large pool of knowledge which can be compared by forming groups (Branjerdporn et al. 2023). It is also necessary to retain focus on the scope of the study which includes only recent conditions in Australia.
Qualitative approaches will be adopted for analysing the data where things will be constructed to resonate with each interview question. This symbolises the use of thematic analysis where the data will be segregated into different themes where the pattern of the information will be evaluated (Yilmaz, 2013). To enhance the analysis and make it more valid, direct quotes from the transcript and the interview responses will be incorporated. Primary qualitative data will be collected by using an interview schedule that contains semi-structured questions. The interview will contain 5 to 6 questions focusing on child welfare in Australia, the role played by families in improving or decreasing mental health for children and the type of mental health problems that children develop due to exposure to violence in the family. The questions asked in the interview will be open-ended which will allow the participants to provide long answers that cover all the factors they want to discuss. Participants will be recruited from non-profit organisations and social work communities (Walliman, 2021). The recruitment process will include contacting the participants through emails, social media and text messages. Once the participants have agreed to take part in the research their informed consent will be collected before proceeding with the interview. Interviews will also take place virtually through video conferencing tools and the messages will be transcribed for interpretation. Each interview is likely to last from 10 to 30 minutes.
The study will use purposive sampling since the research needs to collect very specific information which is available only to people working in this domain with victims, people who are victims or people who are acquainted with victims. The sample will include social workers’ experience in working with child welfare therefore have dealt with children living with violent families succumbing to mental health problems (Watkins & Gioia, 2015). The interview will include a sample size of 10 participants.
Considering that the research is based on a highly sensitive topic the participants which include social workers dealing with child welfare and domestic violence in Australia will not be asked to disclose any personal accounts about the victims they have dealt with. The privacy and confidentiality of the participants will be respected and they will be treated with dignity throughout the interaction they have with the researcher. In case the participant is unwilling to answer any question the researcher will skip that question without forcing the participant to answer them. Nevertheless, a pilot test will be performed to avoid this problem. Ethical requirements set by the university will also be followed in the research. The participants will have the freedom to end their involvement in the research at any point (Wessells & Kostelny, 2022). The participants will not be forced to take part in the study and their recruitment will be confirmed by collecting their informed consent.
The participants will be made aware of the purpose of the research and how the researcher intends to use the information they collect from the participants to retain transparency and honesty with the respondents. The researcher will be completely responsible and accountable to the participants in case of any damages even though the chances are very low.
The project timeline suggests that the research will continue for 12 months. Each month focus of the researcher will be on different activities whose graphical illustrations and details are mentioned below:
Month 1: Consider a topic followed by background research analysis of recent trends and examination of policies related to domestic violence and child welfare in Australia.
Month 2: Study preliminary literature for knowledge expansion and evaluation of the selected topic to make relevant changes followed by in-depth study and consult with relevant communities for more understanding about the subject.
Month 3: Interact with social workers working in this field by reaching out to communities and organisations working for child welfare and domestic violence.
Month 4: Recruit relevant participants for proceeding with the interview by achieving informed consent.
Month 5: Interview with the participants individually.
Month 6: Transcribing the data collected from the records of the interview.
Month 7: Examination and analysis of the data collected.
Month 8: Determination of limitations faced in the research.
Month 9: Implement necessary modifications before constructing the final draft.
Month 10 – 12: Finalising the Research report and its submission.
A few essential resources and their cost estimations are as follows:
- The donation amount for the non-profit organisations recruited for sampling in the study: 500 dollars for each organisation
- Stationeries and supplies cost: 400 dollars
- Transportation expenses for travelling between campus and the organisations recruited in the study: 300 dollars
- Equipment costs like laptops, mobile phones and more: 1,000 dollars
Since it is primary research the participants of the study will be engaged with the research even after data collection. The researcher will continuously provide updates to the participants as a measure to show appreciation and appraisal for their engagement in the research. This allows the researcher to keep the respondents aware of how the data they provide is being used and the potential value it will generate. After completing the final draft and submitting it to relevant authorities copies of this final draft will be sent to the participants as well. The research is expected to disclose social measures that can be embraced for improving child protection living in households with domestic violence. These findings can therefore be considered and used by the social workers (participants) receiving the Research report after its completion.
Bacon-Shone, J. H. (2013). Introduction to quantitative research methods. Graduate School, The University of Hong Kong. https://hub.hku.hk/handle/10722/191018
Branjerdporn, G., Clonan, T., Boddy, J., Gillespie, K., Rosemary O’Malley, & Baird, K. (2023). Australian women’s perspectives of routine enquiry into domestic violence before and after birth. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 23, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-023-05345-7
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Hanley, N., MacPhail, C., Simpson, H., & Stevenson, S. (2023). ‘You Are Up Against It Down Here’. Providing Domestic and Family Violence Services in Regional Australia. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 12(2), 124-136. https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcjsd.2437
Kuruppu, J., Novy, K., Fetter, L., Oo, S., & Hegarty, K. (2023). ‘Family court…sucks out your soul’: Australian general practitioners’ experiences supporting domestic violence survivors through family court. BMC Primary Care, 24, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12875-023-02044-2
Lema, F. W., Solomon, S. A., Jarso, M. H., Aman, M. G., & Dejene, E. D. (2023). Late postpartum depression and associated factors: community-based cross-sectional study. BMC Women’s Health, 23, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-023-02444-7
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Sharp, M., Solomon, N., Harrison, V., Gribble, R., Cramm, H., Pike, G., & Fear, N. T. (2022). The mental health and wellbeing of spouses, partners and children of emergency responders: A systematic review. PLoS One, 17(6)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0269659
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Yilmaz, K. (2013). Comparison of quantitative and qualitative research traditions: Epistemological, theoretical, and methodological differences. European journal of education, 48(2), 311-325. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ejed.12014