Effectiviteit Moeder-kindcursus. Een cursus voor kinderen die getuige zijn geweest van huiselijk geweld en hun moeders
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Introduction The Mother-and-child course is a preventive course aimed at child witnesses of domestic violence in the age range from one and a half up to six, and their mothers. Preventing these children from (growing) mental health problems is the course’s main goal. Young children are at higher risk than others when it comes to mental health problems as a result of being a witness of domestic violence. When growing older these children subsequently are at a higher risk of becoming (domestically) violent themselves. The focus during the course is the improvement of the relationship between mother and child. The aim of this study is to find out whether or not the participants in this course (both mothers and children) are having mental health problems. Secondly the effectiveness of the intervention is assessed. Method During the first and last session of the course mothers filled out a questionnaire. This questionnaire contained questions on the experiences of the child, the mental health status of mother and child, mothers’ parenting skills and questions on social support. Course leaders assessed the relationship between mother and child using Ainsworth observation scales. Results Mothers who participated in this course reported an increased level of mental health problems when compared to the Dutch norm group. A part of the children in the course has scores that put them in the clinical range of the CBCL (52 percent internalizing problems, 24 percent externalizing problems and 30 percent total problem scale). After the course has ended mothers reported less mental health problems for themselves and their children. Regarding the number of positive pedagogical skills no changes have been found. The negative pedagogical skills, high level of permission, overreaction and verbal punishment, have decreased at the end of the course. Scores on mothers’ social network or the (perceived) support she gets did not change. Course leaders report a strong increase in mothers’ sensitivity and cooperation. Discussion This research indicates that the Mother-and-child course is an effective course when it comes to prevent or decrease mental health problems with children that have been witnesses of domestic violence. Mothers that participated in this course report decreased mental health problems and negative pedagogical skills and the relationship between mother and child seems to be improved. This is promising, but further research using RTC-design remains necessary. Key words: mother-and-child course, effectiveness, domestic violence, prevention, young children.