Kristof Jumps the Gun

@NicholasKristof has done a terrific job using his platform at the @NYT, and his book Half the Sky (co-authored with his wife Sheryl WuDunn), to shine light on sex trafficking. This week he turned his attention to domestic violence.  While it’s thrilling to have such a powerful ally in our work to end partner violence, I fear he waded in this area without his typical level of knowledge. He interviewed a victim and compellingly related her story; he narrated realities about past and present challenges with law enforcement response; and he demanded that we must take notice. So far so good. But when he got to his closer, the action steps, one of them was to mandate batterers programs for all offenders.  After 20 years in the field, mandated batterers program would in no way be on my short list of what must be done. The research on batterers programs is less than promising.  Even when it has some effect on reducing recidivism, it is very clear that it is not equally effective for all offenders. But we send everyone there anyway.  When a powerful cultural presence like Nicholas Kristof says we should, we’ll continue to do so, even though it flies in the face of evidence. In a field that still lacks sufficient research, I implore our allies to be careful what they recommend. We need Nicholas Kristof, and influencers like him, to partner with us, to use their bullhorn to support the research that leads to evidence-based responses to this problem. Now that is something I would love to see on @NIcholasKristof’s short list!

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About amybarasch

Seasoned professional in the area of partner violence, criminal justice, and public policy. Public Service Professor at the Center for Human Services Research, SUNY Albany. Former Director of the NYS OPDV; NYC FJC; and creator of a variety of collaborative community-engaged programs.
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