Leaving A Mark, An Animal-Assisted Intervention Programme for Children Who Have Been Exposed to Gender-Based Violence: A Pilot Study
Muela Aparicio, Alexander
Soroa Martínez, Goretti
Aritzeta Galán, Aitor
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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16(21) : (2019) // Article ID 4084
Gender-based violence is one of the most serious social and health problems faced by women around the world. Importantly, it has a negative impact not only on the woman's physical and mental health, but also on all members of the family system in which it takes place. The aims of this study were to implement Leaving a Mark, an animal-assisted intervention (AAI) programme for children who have been exposed to gender-based violence, and to examine its effect on their associated clinical symptoms. The participants were 19 children (13 boys and 6 girls; M-age = 8.89, SD = 2.23) who had been exposed to domestic violence perpetrated either by their father or their mother's intimate partner. Clinical symptoms were assessed using the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL). After taking part in the AAI programme, the children showed a reduction in internalizing symptoms and in symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. However, no significant changes were observed in externalizing symptoms or in affective and behavioural dysregulation (CBCL-Dysregulation Profile). These results provide preliminary support for the use of the Leaving a Mark programme with children who have been exposed to domestic violence. However, further studies with a larger sample and more rigorous design are required.