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I brottets skugga - en studie om barn som bevittnar våld i nära relationer och förhållandet mellan skadestånd och straff

Danielson, Eva LU (2011) JURM01 20102
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Idag vet man genom flertalet forskningsrapporter och studier att barn som bevittnar våld i nära relationer kan ta lika stor skada som barn som direkt utsätts för misshandel, och att omfattningen av barns våldsexponering i hemmet är stor. Det har i förarbeten uttryckts att dessa barn kan anses vara föremål för en form av psykisk misshandel. Att låta barn bevittna våld är emellertid inte en kriminaliserad gärning, och dessa barn kan således inte erhålla målsäganderätt i den efterföljande rättsprocessen. I straffrättsligt hänseende ses de som vittnen till brott, och deras möjligheter att erhålla skadestånd från förövaren för de psykiska skador och den kränkning som bevittnandet inneburit är starkt begränsade. Eftersom barnens skador är av... (More)
Idag vet man genom flertalet forskningsrapporter och studier att barn som bevittnar våld i nära relationer kan ta lika stor skada som barn som direkt utsätts för misshandel, och att omfattningen av barns våldsexponering i hemmet är stor. Det har i förarbeten uttryckts att dessa barn kan anses vara föremål för en form av psykisk misshandel. Att låta barn bevittna våld är emellertid inte en kriminaliserad gärning, och dessa barn kan således inte erhålla målsäganderätt i den efterföljande rättsprocessen. I straffrättsligt hänseende ses de som vittnen till brott, och deras möjligheter att erhålla skadestånd från förövaren för de psykiska skador och den kränkning som bevittnandet inneburit är starkt begränsade. Eftersom barnens skador är av psykisk art och ofta uppstår lång tid efter själva våldshändelsen, leder det till stora bevissvårigheter avseende den personskada de drabbats av.

År 2006 genomfördes två lagändringar angående barn som bevittnat våld. Den ena innebar ett förtydligande av socialtjänstens ansvar för dessa barn. I socialtjänstlagen (2001:453) stadgas att barn som bevittnar våld eller andra övergrepp av eller mot närstående vuxna är offer för brott och kan vara i behov av stöd och hjälp. Den andra lagändringen rörde barnets rätt till ersättning i enlighet med brottsskadelagen (1978:413). Barn som bevittnar ett brott som skadar barnets trygghet och tillit till en närstående person ska numera ha rätt till brottsskadersättning från staten. Den ekonomiska ersättning utgör en viktig del i brottsoffrets upprättelse, och kan utgå från tre olika system som både är samtida och subsidiära till varandra. Denna uppsats avser att belysa vilka problem det medför att barn som bevittnar våld i nära relationer endast har rätt till ersättning enligt ett av dessa system.

Uppsatsen syftar vidare till att undersöka vilken rättslig status barn som bevittnar våld i nära relationer har, samt hur de behandlas inom gällande rätt. Utifrån ersättningsrätten, föräldrabalken och barnkonventionen utreds frågan om en gärning som innebär att låta barn bevittna våld av eller emot närstående, kan inrymmas under brottbalkens bestämmelser eller om det måste till en utrycklig kriminalisering beträffande psykisk barnmisshandel. Det konstateras utifrån studier av förarbeten, praxis och doktrin att en straffrättslig åtgärd i form av en kriminalisering är en rimlig lösning på problemet med dessa barn, och att en sådan lösning väl stämmer överens med allmänna principer om kriminalisering. De åtgärder på området som hittills tagits i form av de ovan nämnda lagändringarna från 2006 och införandet av en särskild straffskärpningsgrund i 29 kap 2 § 8 brottsbalken bedöms inte vara tillräckliga för att hjälpa och skydda barn som bevittnar våld av eller mot närstående. Genom anläggandet av ett barn – och brottsofferperspektiv anses inte dagens lagstiftning uppfylla kraven på rättssäkerhet och humanitet för den enskilde. Genom att ge dessa barn status som målsägande skulle de likställas med andra brottsoffer och föras in i rättsprocessen på ett helt annat sätt. De skulle då således erhålla de rättigheter och den ekonomiska ersättning de förvägras idag. (Less)
Abstract
We know from a majority of research studies that children who witness domestic violence can take as much damage as children directly exposed to assault offenses, and that the extent of children's exposure of violence at home are of great proportions. It has been expressed in Swedish legislation that these children can be subject to psychological abuse. Allowing children to witness violence is however not a criminalized act, and these children can therefore not obtain the rights of plaintiff during the legal proceedings. In criminal law, these children are seen as eyewitnesses to crimes, and their ability to obtain financial compensation from the perpetrator for their psychological injuries, is severely limited. Since the children's... (More)
We know from a majority of research studies that children who witness domestic violence can take as much damage as children directly exposed to assault offenses, and that the extent of children's exposure of violence at home are of great proportions. It has been expressed in Swedish legislation that these children can be subject to psychological abuse. Allowing children to witness violence is however not a criminalized act, and these children can therefore not obtain the rights of plaintiff during the legal proceedings. In criminal law, these children are seen as eyewitnesses to crimes, and their ability to obtain financial compensation from the perpetrator for their psychological injuries, is severely limited. Since the children's injuries are mental and often occur long after the violent incident, it leads to major evidential difficulties regarding the injury these children suffered.

In 2006 two legislative changes were made regarding children who witness violence. One was a clarification of the social services responsibility for these children, and states that children who witness violence or other abuse by or against an adult are victims of crime, and may be in need of help and support. The other change deal with these children’s right to financial compensation. Children who witness a crime that harms the child's safety and trust in a family member will be entitled to financial compensation from the Swedish state. The financial compensation is an important part in a victim’s restitution, and can be paid from three different systems that are both contemporary and secondary. This paper intends to highlight the problem that children who witness domestic violence only are entitled to financial compensation according to one of these three systems.

This paper furthermore aims to investigate the legal status of children who witness domestic violence, and how these children are treated within the Swedish law. Based on the legislation on financial compensation, the Parental Code, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child this paper investigate whether an act to allow children to witness domestic violence, can be accommodated within the Swedish law or whether an expressed criminalization on psychological child abuse is necessary. The conclusion, after studying Swedish preparatory work, legal practice and doctrine, is that a criminal action in the form of a criminal offense is a reasonable solution, and that such an approach corresponds well with the general principles of criminalization. The measures like the changes from 2006 and the introduction of a specific penal basis in the Swedish Penal Code, are not considered sufficient in order to help and protect children who witness violence by or against a family member. Through the construction of a child’s perspective and a victim’s perspective, current legislation do not meet the requirements of neither legal security or of humanity of individuals. By giving these children status of plaintiff, they would be treated like other victims, and they would be able to enter in the judicial process in a completely different way. They would then obtain the rights and financial compensation that they are denied today. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Danielson, Eva LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
In the Shadow of a Crime - a Study of Children Who Witness Domestic Violence and Their Legal Status
course
JURM01 20102
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
våld i nära relationer, målsägande, brottsoffer, Straffrätt, ersättningsrätt
language
Swedish
id
1763314
date added to LUP
2011-01-19 10:36:27
date last changed
2011-01-19 10:36:27
@misc{1763314,
  abstract     = {We know from a majority of research studies that children who witness domestic violence can take as much damage as children directly exposed to assault offenses, and that the extent of children's exposure of violence at home are of great proportions. It has been expressed in Swedish legislation that these children can be subject to psychological abuse. Allowing children to witness violence is however not a criminalized act, and these children can therefore not obtain the rights of plaintiff during the legal proceedings. In criminal law, these children are seen as eyewitnesses to crimes, and their ability to obtain financial compensation from the perpetrator for their psychological injuries, is severely limited. Since the children's injuries are mental and often occur long after the violent incident, it leads to major evidential difficulties regarding the injury these children suffered. 

In 2006 two legislative changes were made regarding children who witness violence. One was a clarification of the social services responsibility for these children, and states that children who witness violence or other abuse by or against an adult are victims of crime, and may be in need of help and support. The other change deal with these children’s right to financial compensation. Children who witness a crime that harms the child's safety and trust in a family member will be entitled to financial compensation from the Swedish state. The financial compensation is an important part in a victim’s restitution, and can be paid from three different systems that are both contemporary and secondary. This paper intends to highlight the problem that children who witness domestic violence only are entitled to financial compensation according to one of these three systems. 

This paper furthermore aims to investigate the legal status of children who witness domestic violence, and how these children are treated within the Swedish law. Based on the legislation on financial compensation, the Parental Code, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child this paper investigate whether an act to allow children to witness domestic violence, can be accommodated within the Swedish law or whether an expressed criminalization on psychological child abuse is necessary. The conclusion, after studying Swedish preparatory work, legal practice and doctrine, is that a criminal action in the form of a criminal offense is a reasonable solution, and that such an approach corresponds well with the general principles of criminalization. The measures like the changes from 2006 and the introduction of a specific penal basis in the Swedish Penal Code, are not considered sufficient in order to help and protect children who witness violence by or against a family member. Through the construction of a child’s perspective and a victim’s perspective, current legislation do not meet the requirements of neither legal security or of humanity of individuals. By giving these children status of plaintiff, they would be treated like other victims, and they would be able to enter in the judicial process in a completely different way. They would then obtain the rights and financial compensation that they are denied today.},
  author       = {Danielson, Eva},
  keyword      = {våld i nära relationer,målsägande,brottsoffer,Straffrätt,ersättningsrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {I brottets skugga - en studie om barn som bevittnar våld i nära relationer och förhållandet mellan skadestånd och straff},
  year         = {2011},
}