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Improving Mental Health in Maori Children Witnessing Family Violence in New Zealand

Priyanka Thakur, Faisal AlShamsi, Anita Jagroop and Syed M Shahid

A positive parent-child relationship is considered to be an essential foundation on which to nurture a child’s physical and mental well-being for their future development. Any presence of abusive patterns or incidents can cause emotional scarring for the duration of a child’s life. An abusive environment can cause alterations in a child’s behaviour, and may lead to depression, anxiety, stress, and even fatal consequences. Recent studies have documented that domestic violence can weaken the immune and metabolic system of the body causing genetic variation of DNA. It is evident from the recent literature that the basic understanding of family violence for Māori needs to include a wider understanding that all forms of violence on whanau constitutes family violence. The literature published with a focus on family violence for Māori is lacking. Most of the literature in regard to family violence for Māori is generic and the key elements that are relevant to the area are missing. This research communication provides an overview of potential psychological approaches with a possibility to improve the mental health issues, which are otherwise progressively increasing in Māori children witnessing frequent family violence incidences. It is also suggested that a consolidated approach to develop a participatory and collaborative research strategy based on the basic principles of triti o Waitangi in the area of family violence for Māori is urgently needed.