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Barnen vi blundar för - Om den rättsliga regleringen avseende barn som bevittnar våld mot närstående

Ekelin, Alva LU (2018) JURM02 20181
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Mäns våld mot kvinnor är ett omfattande samhällsproblem. En aspekt av detta problem som inte har uppmärksammats i samma utsträckning är att barn ofta bevittnar våldet, eftersom att det vanligtvis sker i hemmet. Det är svårt att fastställa hur många barn som bevittnar våld mot närstående, men studier visar att ungefär 100 000–200 000 barn i Sverige är drabbade. Denna framställning syftar till att, utifrån ett barnperspektiv, undersöka och analysera hur barn som bevittnar våld mot närstående uppmärksammas och hanteras i svensk gällande rätt. Här ingår att utreda hur barnen påverkas av sina upplevelser, vilka rättigheter barn tillskrivs samt hur synen på barn och barns rättigheter har förändrats i Sverige genom historien. En viktig del i... (More)
Mäns våld mot kvinnor är ett omfattande samhällsproblem. En aspekt av detta problem som inte har uppmärksammats i samma utsträckning är att barn ofta bevittnar våldet, eftersom att det vanligtvis sker i hemmet. Det är svårt att fastställa hur många barn som bevittnar våld mot närstående, men studier visar att ungefär 100 000–200 000 barn i Sverige är drabbade. Denna framställning syftar till att, utifrån ett barnperspektiv, undersöka och analysera hur barn som bevittnar våld mot närstående uppmärksammas och hanteras i svensk gällande rätt. Här ingår att utreda hur barnen påverkas av sina upplevelser, vilka rättigheter barn tillskrivs samt hur synen på barn och barns rättigheter har förändrats i Sverige genom historien. En viktig del i denna framställning är även redogörelsen för kriminaliseringsprinciper, detta för att analysera vilka möjligheter och förutsättningar det finns att införa ett straffrättslig skydd för barn som bevittnar våld mot närstående. För att kunna besvara de frågeställningar uppsatsen behandlar används en rättsdogmatisk och en rättsanalytisk metod.

Genom forskning på området har barnen samt hur de påverkas av att bevittna våld mot närstående synliggjorts alltmer och det har konstaterats att de utsätts för psykisk misshandel. Barnen drabbas av omfattande skador, främst psykiska, både på kort och på lång sikt, inte minst på grund av att de befinner sig i en beroendesituation där de är totalt utelämnade och skyddslösa. Det har konstaterats att barn som bevittnar våld i nära relationer kan lida samma psykiska skador som de barn som utsätts för direkt fysiskt våld. Trots detta är det inte en kriminaliserad gärning enligt dagens lagstiftning att utsätta barn för att bevittna våld mot närstående. Detta resulterar i att barnen inte är att anses som målsägande och att de därmed går miste om processuella rättigheter i den efterföljande rättsliga processen. Sedan 2006 har dock barn som bevittnat våld mot närstående brottofferstatus enligt socialtjänstlagen samt, under vissa förutsättningar, rätt till brottsskadeersättning från staten.

I framställningen konstateras att låta barn bevittna våld mot närstående är, utifrån principer för kriminalisering, en gärning som både kan och bör kriminaliseras. Anledningen till att så inte är fallet tycks främst vara den allmänna synen på barn samt hur vi traditionellt begränsar vad som utgör en ”skada” i straffrättslig mening. Med beaktande av de skador barnen riskerar att lida kan det argumenteras för att barnets status som vittne framför målsägande inte är giltig på ett rationellt sätt. En kriminalisering av att utsätta barn för att bevittna våld mot närstående hade inneburit ett viktigt ställningstagande och en markering från lagstiftarens sida – att ett sådant våldshandlande inte är acceptabelt – även i förhållande till barnen. Barnen skulle troligtvis uppmärksammas i högre utsträckning, inte minst i polisanmälningar och i förundersökningar. Upprättelse och bekräftelse för barnen är andra viktiga faktorer som talar för en kriminalisering. Genom en kriminalisering skulle barnen även få möjlighet att tillskrivas de rättigheter som följer av en målsägandestatus, som exempelvis förordnandet av en särskild företrädare samt skadestånd från gärningsmannen. Vidare hade införandet av ett nytt straffbud som tar sikte på psykisk misshandel av barn inneburit en bättre överrensstämmelse med de rättigheter som barnet tillskrivs genom nationell rätt och barnkonventionen. I längden skulle en kriminalisering förhoppningsvis även kunna bidra till att förändra vuxnas syn på att låta barn bevittna våld mot närstående och därigenom ha en handlingsdirigerande verkan. (Less)
Abstract
One of the most relevant and major issues in todays’ society is men’s violence against women. Another issue in relation to domestic violence, which has not been addressed to the same extent, is that children often witness this violence since it usually takes place at home. It is difficult to estimate how many children witness domestic violence, but studies show that approximately 100,000 - 200,000 children in Sweden are affected. The purpose of this thesis is to, from a child’s perspective, examine and analyze how children who witness domestic violence are attended to and treated within the Swedish law. This includes examining how these children are affected by their experiences, children’s rights, and how the society’s general view on... (More)
One of the most relevant and major issues in todays’ society is men’s violence against women. Another issue in relation to domestic violence, which has not been addressed to the same extent, is that children often witness this violence since it usually takes place at home. It is difficult to estimate how many children witness domestic violence, but studies show that approximately 100,000 - 200,000 children in Sweden are affected. The purpose of this thesis is to, from a child’s perspective, examine and analyze how children who witness domestic violence are attended to and treated within the Swedish law. This includes examining how these children are affected by their experiences, children’s rights, and how the society’s general view on children and their rights has changed in Sweden through history. An important part of this thesis is also to present principles of criminalization and thereby analyze the possibility of introducing criminal protection for children who witness domestic violence. In order to answer the issues set out in this thesis, a legal as well as a legal analysis approach is used.

According to research studies in the relevant field, more efforts have been made to investigate how children are affected by witnessing domestic violence. More recent studies have shown that such children are often subjected to psychological abuse and suffer from extensive injuries, mainly psychological, both short-term and long-term. This is mainly due to the fact that the affected children are in a state of dependence towards their parents and thus, they are completely vulnerable and defenseless. Even though research studies have shown that children who witness domestic violence are affected in the same way as children who are being exposed to physical violence, allowing children to witness domestic violence is not a criminalized act according to Swedish legislation. As a result, the affected children are not entitled to the same rights as an injured party during legal proceedings. However, according to the Swedish Social Services Act it was established in 2006 that children who witness domestic violence are victims of crime. Furthermore, under certain criteria, the affected children are entitled to financial compensation from the Swedish state.

As argued in this thesis and based on general principles of criminalization, a conclusion can be made that allowing children to witness domestic violence is an act that both could and should be criminalized. The reasons behind why this act not yet being criminalized is mainly due to the society’s general view on children and how the society traditionally defines what constitutes "harm" in a criminal law perspective. Considering the grave injuries the affected children suffer from, it seems that this categorization is not valid in a reasonable way. To criminalize this act would constitute an important statement that allowing children to witness domestic violence is not acceptable at any time. Furthermore, a criminalization would most likely also lead to attention being paid to these children to a greater extent, especially as regards reports of offences and preliminary investigations. An important implication is also that the affected children would gain satisfaction and acknowledgement. Through a criminalization, the affected children would be entitled to the same rights as the injured party during the legal proceedings, such as e.g. a special representative for children and damages from the offender. An expressed criminalization of psychological child abuse would be much more in accordance with children’s rights as stated in national law and by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In a long-term perspective, a criminalization could hopefully also contribute to adults changing their views on allowing children to witness domestic violence and thereby lead to a change in behavior. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Ekelin, Alva LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The Children We Refuse to See - An examination of the legal regulation regarding children who witness domestic violence
course
JURM02 20181
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Straffrätt, criminal law, barn, children
language
Swedish
id
8941215
date added to LUP
2018-06-11 10:05:51
date last changed
2018-06-11 10:05:51
@misc{8941215,
  abstract     = {One of the most relevant and major issues in todays’ society is men’s violence against women. Another issue in relation to domestic violence, which has not been addressed to the same extent, is that children often witness this violence since it usually takes place at home. It is difficult to estimate how many children witness domestic violence, but studies show that approximately 100,000 - 200,000 children in Sweden are affected. The purpose of this thesis is to, from a child’s perspective, examine and analyze how children who witness domestic violence are attended to and treated within the Swedish law. This includes examining how these children are affected by their experiences, children’s rights, and how the society’s general view on children and their rights has changed in Sweden through history. An important part of this thesis is also to present principles of criminalization and thereby analyze the possibility of introducing criminal protection for children who witness domestic violence. In order to answer the issues set out in this thesis, a legal as well as a legal analysis approach is used. 

According to research studies in the relevant field, more efforts have been made to investigate how children are affected by witnessing domestic violence. More recent studies have shown that such children are often subjected to psychological abuse and suffer from extensive injuries, mainly psychological, both short-term and long-term. This is mainly due to the fact that the affected children are in a state of dependence towards their parents and thus, they are completely vulnerable and defenseless. Even though research studies have shown that children who witness domestic violence are affected in the same way as children who are being exposed to physical violence, allowing children to witness domestic violence is not a criminalized act according to Swedish legislation. As a result, the affected children are not entitled to the same rights as an injured party during legal proceedings. However, according to the Swedish Social Services Act it was established in 2006 that children who witness domestic violence are victims of crime. Furthermore, under certain criteria, the affected children are entitled to financial compensation from the Swedish state. 

As argued in this thesis and based on general principles of criminalization, a conclusion can be made that allowing children to witness domestic violence is an act that both could and should be criminalized. The reasons behind why this act not yet being criminalized is mainly due to the society’s general view on children and how the society traditionally defines what constitutes "harm" in a criminal law perspective. Considering the grave injuries the affected children suffer from, it seems that this categorization is not valid in a reasonable way. To criminalize this act would constitute an important statement that allowing children to witness domestic violence is not acceptable at any time. Furthermore, a criminalization would most likely also lead to attention being paid to these children to a greater extent, especially as regards reports of offences and preliminary investigations. An important implication is also that the affected children would gain satisfaction and acknowledgement. Through a criminalization, the affected children would be entitled to the same rights as the injured party during the legal proceedings, such as e.g. a special representative for children and damages from the offender. An expressed criminalization of psychological child abuse would be much more in accordance with children’s rights as stated in national law and by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In a long-term perspective, a criminalization could hopefully also contribute to adults changing their views on allowing children to witness domestic violence and thereby lead to a change in behavior.},
  author       = {Ekelin, Alva},
  keyword      = {Straffrätt,criminal law,barn,children},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Barnen vi blundar för - Om den rättsliga regleringen avseende barn som bevittnar våld mot närstående},
  year         = {2018},
}