New Study Targets Domestic Abuse Prevention

In a bold move designed to address a difficult problem North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) leaders have authorized an unprecedented research project targeting domestic violence within Adventist families. When finished, the project will provide a clearer picture, not only of the challenge, but also of potential strategies for prevention.

The study, funded by an independent Northwest foundation and entitled “Strengthening Adventist Families in the North Pacific Union Conference,” is being conducted by the Institute for the Prevention of Addictions at Andrews University. Rene D. Drumm, PhD, is the project director in conjunction with Duane McBride, PhD, institute research director and chair of the Andrews University Department of Behavioral Science.

Domestic violence awareness is on the rise throughout North America. National research indicates that two to three million women in the general public will be physically assaulted by male partners in any given year. Nearly one third of women admitted to hospitals state they have been abused by a husband or partner.

But statistics are difficult to find for specific populations, such as conservative Christian denominations. Some figures tend to show that conservative beliefs sometimes complicate a violent relationship. And Adventists are not immune. Informal studies of Adventist families show they experience social problems in about the same proportions as the general population.

The Institute has randomly selected approximately 100 Adventist churches throughout the Northwest to participate in the study. The study targets adults 18 and older and will seek information about their experience with abuse and their opinions on positive intervention strategies. Specific responses will be kept confidential by the research director.

Data collection from Northwest churches will continue through the first half of this year. After careful analysis and report writing, the Institute expects to issue its findings to Northwest church leaders by the end of the year.

Because truth can expose weaknesses, people and even organizations at times find convenient reasons to avoid the truth. But the truth can also provide answers and solutions. “The problem of domestic violence must be proactively addressed,” says Bryce Pascoe, NPUC executive secretary. “We hope our members will support this research as the first step in getting an accurate picture of the challenge so that appropriate prevention and intervention solutions can be designed on behalf of our members.”

Here’s what Northwest leaders are expecting directly from the Institute once research findings are complete:

• A comprehensive written and oral report to the North Pacific Union Conference answering research questions;

• Specific recommendations about the types of intervention strategies that may be most successful in the Northwest;

• An outline of possible short- and long-term goals and how those might be addressed;

• Baseline research findings that can be used to apply for externally funded program development and further research and evaluation.

Once the results have been thoroughly digested, a full report will be made available to Northwest members through the GLEANER. •

How You Can Help

There are several things that you can do to help make this project succeed. If you see this study as an important step for the Adventist church, you can help in the following ways:

1. Urge your pastor to accept the invitation to participate in the study on behalf of your congregation if your church is selected as a sample church. Contact your pastor or the project director below to find out if your church is in the sample.

2. If your church is selected as part of the sample, take the time to fill out the survey in its entirety. Whether or not you have ever been in an abusive relationship, your attitudes, opinions, and experiences are valued. While most people do not enjoy completing surveys, this process should take no more than 20 minutes and could make a big difference in someone’s life.

3. Volunteer to help collect the data in a nearby church. The Institute is looking for family life speakers that can provide a church service focused on strengthening our families and effectively recruit church members to fill out the survey. Contact the project director, using the information below for more information about volunteering.

4. Let us know if you support these efforts to lead our church in becoming a more loving sanctuary for hurting people.

Project Director: René D. Drumm PhD, Associate Professor of Social Work, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI 49103; (269) 471-6516; rdrumm@andrews.edu

April 01, 2003 / North Pacific Union
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