Kern County has experienced steady increases of domestic violence calls for assistance from 3,117 in 2005 to 4,666 in 2013. Nationwide, women are killed by a family member or intimate partner in 2 out of 3 female homicide cases.
Children are deeply affected by Domestic Violence; “[m]ore than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year” and “[c]hildren who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%).” These children tend to have significantly more health problems than their peers, and the violence is often perpetuated as these children “may channel their feelings through aggressive acts such as fighting, hitting younger siblings and engaging in high-risk behaviors such as using or abusing drugs or joining gangs.” Meanwhile, “[m]en who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents” and young girls at “greater risk of becoming victims themselves.”4 Very young children who witness either domestic or community violence show increased irritability, immature behavior, developmental regression and increased fears, in addition to temper tantrums, clinging and difficulty separating from parents. Even very young children can exhibit symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder; children as young as two can experience sleep disturbances, withdrawn or aggressive behaviors, developmental regression and disruptions in the parent-child relationship as a result of exposure to violence.
There is a dire need for expanded supervised visitation and safe exchange services in our community. Kern County has total population of 839,631 and Bakersfield, the largest city in Kern has a population of 347,483. As previously stated, we have an alarming rate of domestic violence and Heaven’s House is the only full time supervised visitation and exchange center in the county offering flexible visitation hours. Families here are particularly vulnerable as there are only 0.94 full time law enforcement officers per 1,000 population in Bakersfield (CA average is 2.34) making response time in an emergency call even more precarious for victims involved in exchanges of their custodial children. Heaven’s House is here to help eliminate as much exposure to Domestic Violence as possible.
wwww. kidsdata.org, http://oag.ca.gov/crime/cjsc/criminal-justice-profiles & http://www.dof.ca.gov