Profs Launch Website Aimed at Preventing Domestic Homicide

February 28, 2014 - News Release

A new website launched by researchers at the University of Guelph and Western University is intended to prevent domestic homicide through increased awareness and education.

It’s an important step in developing a national prevention strategy, says U of G sociology professor Myrna Dawson, who is heading the initiative with Western professor Peter Jaffe.

“Similar to the rise of domestic violence death reviews, the launch of this website is a clear indicator that these crimes can no longer be explained away as spontaneous crimes of passion but are now more accurately recognized as acts that can often be prevented,” said Dawson, director of Guelph’s Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Public Policy in Criminal Justice.

“It’s the collaborative efforts by multiple groups evident on this website that will continue to improve our prevention initiatives.”

Intimate partner homicide continues to make up the majority of family-related homicides (43 per cent), and women are consistently at greater risk than men of any age group. The crime is often premeditated and usually follows a history of assault and violence, Dawson says.

The Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative website was designed for researchers, community organizations and government policy makers. It features research reports, educational materials, learning and training opportunities, annual reports from domestic violence death review committees across Canada and internationally, and other resources associated with domestic homicide prevention.

Dawson and Jaffe belong to the first-ever Canadian domestic violence death review committee, created by the Province of Ontario in 2002. The group has reviewed 164 homicides in the last decade. Similar committees and review processes have been established by New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta.

The Ontario committee’s annual report, released earlier this month, reviewed 20 domestic homicides and found an average of 10 identifiable risk factors in these cases.

“The vast majority of these homicides are predictable and preventable based on the number of risk factors known to professionals, friends, family and co-workers in many of these tragedies,” said Dr. William Lucas, deputy chief coroner and committee chair.

Jaffe, an education professor and director of Western’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, said the new website will help create a national dialogue and foster more information-sharing and collaboration.

“It will not only enhance research efforts but also will help make better-informed policy and service delivery decisions to help prevent domestic homicides.”

The initiative was funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “We are thrilled to support this important work of bringing together key research and data into one central location to ensure that the best resources are available to those working on the issues of violence against women,” said Anu Dugal, the foundation’s director of violence prevention.

“This important tool will help in the ongoing work of preventing domestic homicide, one of the most predictable and preventable types of homicide. We are saving lives with this work.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or

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