New program aims to help end the cycle of domestic violence in Sudbury

Five service agencies in Sudbury are working together to help end the cycle of domestic violence. They're piloting an initiative called Caring Dads. The 17-week program works with men who have been charged or convicted of domestic violence. It's meant to teach them to be better fathers and partners, without the use of violence.

The John Howard Society of Sudbury is one of the organizations involved.John Rimore, Executive Director, says the goal is to stop the cycle of abuse.

"The way to do it is through programs that are not just punitive, such as a probation or jail sentence for men when they're convicted of domestic violence," he told CBC News. "It's programs like the Caring Dads that actually change a person's behaviour."

In many cases of domestic violence, the focus is on getting help and support to the victim. But a new program in northern Ontario looks to help the men who may be charged with domestic violence. 

Rimore says the program also provides services and support to the female victims. Tracy de Vos, who speaks for the Sudbury Women's Centre, says her agency's first priority is to keep women and children safe. owever she says when children are involved, it's important to keep the family relationship healthy.

"We wouldn't encourage them to do it, or discourage it, but it has to be what's in the best interest of the family," de Vos said. "This way with the men getting the help, at least they're given the tools on how to continue that positive relationship with their families."

A first for northeastern Ontario

The men attend voluntarily and are provided with support and resources to help change their behaviour. This is the first time the Caring Dads program has been offered in northeastern Ontario. The program began at the University of Toronto, and was founded by professor Dr. Katrina Scott. It was first piloted in London, Ont.

In Sudbury, the organizations behind the Caring Dads program include the John Howard Society of Sudbury, Sudbury Women's Centre, Sudbury and Area Victim Services, Greater Sudbury Police Services and the Sudbury Counselling Centre. The program is funded by the United Way of Sudbury and Nipissing districts.

Jean-Paul Mouton