Dean testifies at Senate hearings on domestic violence and the economic crisis

SP2 Dean Richard GellesPhoto credit: Candace diCarlo

The current economic downtown has a far-reaching impact, affecting housing, unemployment and philanthropic giving.
 
Although there is no firm evidence that lethal or non-lethal family violence is increasing as a result of the bad economy, one predictable consequence of the downturn is the reduction of funding for social service agencies and programs, including domestic violence shelters.
 
Richard Gelles, the dean of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, argues that now is the time to examine the scope of the Violence Against Women Act.  
 
Gelles will testify before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary about the Violence Against Women Act during a time of economic uncertainty, on Wednesday, May 5 at 10 a.m., in the Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Room 226.  
 
He will point out the Act ignores the need for effective targeted offender treatment programs. Failure to intervene with offenders can place domestic violence victims and their children at a heightened risk for further abuse.

During his testimony, Gelles will note that data on the impact of previous recessions (1990-91 and 2000-01) do not necessarily predict the impact of the current economic downturn—as the recession today is more severe in terms of job losses and housing issues.

For 40 years, Gelles has researched violence against women, child abuse and neglect, elder abuse and other instances of domestic violence. He is the Joanne and Raymond Welsh Chair of Child Welfare and Family Violence at Penn, and was instrumental in the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.

Originally published on May 4, 2010