Posted on May 8th, 2012
Tomorrow is 9 May and this day is seen by some as Mr Punch’s (as in Punch and Judy) British birthday. Mr Punch was popular with famous writers such as Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens. The show was originally focused at an adult audience and when children became the main recipients of this entertainment show some characters were dropped. The Devil or Mr Punch’s mistress Pretty Polly is now seldom used which is an interesting contention to protecting the innocence of the child viewer.
I recall from my childhood that Mr Punch would hit Mrs Punch, the baby and the Police Officer. It is reported that Mr Punch no longer hits the baby but will sit on it as a pun for ‘babysitter’. The show’s attempt at humour still allows the baby to be sat on, dropped or threatened with being put through the sausage machine. And it is still considered that Mr Punch can hit Judy with a stick whilst she holds the baby. The show is deemed to be modelled on traditional behaviour. However, would it be allowed today on British’s children’s television? The plot might be some children’s and adults’ only contact with domestic violence so could the puppet show be used to explain the inappropriateness of violence within the family unit.
The impact of domestic violence on men, women and children has lasting physical and emotional effects. The assessment of risk is important for safeguarding children, to ensure they are not placed in immediate danger of physical harm. Children witnessing aggressive assaults within the home often have no safe place to escape. The acts of violence are usually perpetrated by men towards women and children, although domestic violence involving women as perpetrators is increasing.
The situation needs to be assessed with an open, transparent manner so that all parties are aware of what is acceptable and what is not. Perpetrators need to own their behaviour and not blame other members of the family unit for their actions. There is no excuse for an adult to punch another adult whilst the children watch and/or listen.
Avocet undertakes parenting and risk assessments in situations where physical and verbal aggression and emotional abuse are issues that impacts on children’s daily lives.
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