Learning about The Calgary Domestic Violence Court

I had the great honour of meeting The Hon. Justice M. T. C. Tyndale of the Calgary Domestic Violence Court. He has spent more than 20 years on the bench and made some powerful observations.

The importance of intervention

Without treatment or intervention, a staggering 75% of domestic violence offenders will reoffend within three years. However, Justice Tyndale has seen recidivism rates drop to just 25% when offenders receive interventions like:

  • Peace Bonds with counselling requirements;
  • Peer-based programmatic support; and
  • Strict monitoring and reporting conditions.

Coercive courts can also revoke licenses (Law, Real Estate, Accountant).

These evidence-based approaches, coupled with wraparound victim services from organisations like HomeFront Calgary make a significant impact.

The Domestic Violence Treatment Program mandates 32 hours across 13 modules, delivered by four agencies under Alberta Health Services. It aims to address the root causes and prevent further violence.

Troubling trends in youth violence

Justice Tyndale has noticed an alarming increase in the severity of violence among young male offenders. Many are struggling with undiagnosed PTSD, likely from witnessing or experiencing child abuse themselves. For migrant youth new to Canada, limited language skills, housing instability and lack of education and employment pathways exacerbate the challenges, resulting in what Justice Tyndale calls a “waste of humanity.”

Perpetual self-esteem struggles

Day after day, Justice Tyndale bears witness to the constant barrage of messages that erode young people’s self-worth. The youth passing through the courtroom face relentless implications that they are simply “not good enough”. Young female victims often come from families where they witnessed violence, leading to a cycle of acceptance and normalisation. Improving self-esteem and providing alternative perspectives is crucial for breaking this cycle.

Many of the topics and challenges we discussed felt very familiar to me, as we grapple with many of the same ones in Australia and I am grateful to him for sharing his time.

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