Back
Tuesday | 21 July, 2020

Teachers can be encouraged to report domestic violence - but the authorities must respond

[Note: This article first appeared on OC Media, here. It was written by Dustin Gilbreath. Dustin is the Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in this article reflect the views of the authors alone and do not reflect the official positions of UN Women, the Danish Government, CRRC Georgia, or any related entity.]
 
Domestic violence was widely suspected to have increased during the COVID-19 crisis. 
 
A study CRRC Georgia conducted for UN Women prior to the crisis found a behavioural lever that could encourage teachers to report domestic violence they suspect among their students. Yet, the report suggests that until the government reforms the currently dysfunctional reporting infrastructure, encouraging teachers to report could do more harm than good.
 
This suggests that efforts should focus on using behaviourally informed interventions that nudge the authorities to respond to the reports they receive before rolling out large-scale efforts aimed at bystanders. 
 
The Teacher Reporting of Violence against Children and Women study aimed to understand whether there were behavioural levers that could encourage teachers to report domestic violence. 
 
Teachers were the target group of interest as they work closely with children. In this regard, it is generally accepted that the signs of domestic violence against both children and their mothers show up in children’s behaviour. 
 
Moreover, legislation passed in 2016 requires teachers to report suspected domestic violence in Georgia. According to the legislation, there is also a school reporting officer, who is often either a school resource officer (known as a mandaturi — school security guards) or the principal if the school does not have a resource officer.
 
The problems the authorities need to fix
 
The study suggests teachers are generally aware of their responsibility to report. Yet, they were hesitant to do so, because they think that the authorities’ and particularly the police’s response will lead to more harm than good.  As one teacher stated: 
 
‘I think about this frequently — which one is better, to report or not to report. Considering the last case in Kachreti, reporting sometimes results in such a catastrophic consequence… Those who should solve a problem, on the contrary, make it worse… And I was thinking what is better, to speed up such a catastrophe or stay indifferent?’
 
This fear was also reflected in the responses teachers gave on the study’s survey. When asked what might make their colleagues hesitant to report domestic violence, a fear that institutions would respond ineffectively was among the top three reasons given.
 
 
Aside from being afraid of the consequences of a report for the victim’s personal safety (or even the perpetrator’s, as the Kachreti case demonstrates), teachers were often also afraid for their and their family’s safety as the chart above shows. 
 
As one teacher stated: ‘[If you report] they call you a backstabber, because you collaborate with police […] I want to protect myself since all the violence will be redirected to me, and they will tell my children that your father called the police.’ 
 
The lack of confidentiality also feeds the fear that teachers will face physical reprisals as a result of making a report. As one teacher stated: ‘guaranteed confidentiality is not in place here.’ 
 
Even in the absence of such fears or where they are overcome, people who report domestic violence encounter difficulties in getting the police to respond adequately to the situation. As one school resource officer stated: ‘When we call the police, they say, “What happened? Who hasn’t fought?” We even sometimes have to beg them to come to our school.’
 
One of the sources of the problem is that some police officers do not take domestic violence seriously or even think it should be brushed under the rug. A school resource officer, when discussing an instance where they reported a case of domestic violence, stated, ‘They [the police] advised her [a child who was beaten by her father] not to make the complaint harsh and if she would change her complaint and write it in a “more beautiful” way, her daddy would go home in the evening.’ 
 
On top of the above, teachers realise that even if the police act effectively, most victims end up worse off as a result of reports. Families lose one or the only breadwinner, and teachers know the economic situation of the abused will deteriorate. 
 
Economic consequences aside, the abused also face social pressure, shame, and fear of the perpetrator’s return as a result of the report. 
 
The lack of socio-economic and psychological services, which are quite scattered and fragmented in Georgia, cause or exacerbate these issues. For teachers, the legal responsibility to report violence is outweighed by the moral responsibility to protect the safety of victims and not to add economic problems to the abuse and other issues they already face.

How teachers can be encouraged to report
 
The above shows that along the full chain of teacher domestic violence reporting, a circle of distrust stemming from ineffective institutional responses to domestic violence discourages domestic violence reporting among teachers. 
 
If teachers are encouraged to report domestic violence, it seems like they will be met with an ineffective response, discouraging them from reporting suspected domestic violence in the future. 
 
It is easy to imagine this devolving into a cycle wherein following failed responses, teachers discourage others from reporting through a demonstration effect.
 
In this context, there should be a reasonable degree of doubt about how much people should be encouraging teachers to report domestic violence. However, if the situation does improve, the study also provides some evidence about messages that could encourage teachers to report.
 
To test whether different messages might encourage teachers to take concrete steps towards reporting, the study randomly assigned three different messages to teachers and then measured their willingness to take a number of different actions surrounding domestic violence. The three messages included a social norming message, the provision of legal information, and both the previously mentioned messages combined. 
 
The social norming message highlighted to teachers that most people in Georgia find domestic violence unacceptable. While this may seem like a longshot at making change, previous research has shown the effectiveness of highlighting social norms that people are unaware of in changing behaviour. 
 
The second message informed teachers of their legal responsibilities to report. It was provided based on the assumption that many might not be aware of this duty. 
 
The third treatment combined both of these messages, with the goal of seeing whether the sum would be greater than the component parts.
 
The treatments were measured against attitudes towards reporting domestic violence, whether people were willing to provide their contact information to receive training about domestic violence, and whether they would be willing to sign a pledge against domestic violence. 
 
Although not direct measures of intention or actual reporting, the logic behind these measures is that a) attitudes relate to action, and b) in Georgia many are unwilling to provide their contact information (as this study re-affirmed). Hence, if the messages could encourage people to change their attitudes or take an action many would be hesitant to, then the message is likely on the right track.
 
The results of the experiment found few significant results, with one exception. The study asked teachers if they would be interested in participating in training on domestic-violence-related issues, and if they were, to provide contact information. 
 
Among those that were interested, teachers were 10 percentage points more likely to provide information so that they could be contacted for training if they received the social norming message. 
 
 
Aside from this one message having the potential to increase reporting, the study found that the different messages worked for different groups, enabling the targeting of different messages to people likely to be receptive to them. 
 
For instance, the study found that the legal information messages were effective with men but not women. 
 
While the study provides extensive detail on what messages are likely to work and for who, the main finding of the study is that before engaging in large-scale encouragement of teachers to report domestic violence, the government needs to adequately respond to the reports they already get. To do so, the study’s findings could be informative. 
 
Although the social norming message appears to have the most potential, the legal message appears to work with men in particular. Since the police force is largely male, using legally based messages with police officers may be particularly effective at encouraging adequate responses to domestic violence.  However, to confirm this suggestion, further research is needed.
 
The study has numerous findings and can potentially inform efforts at encouraging the authorities to respond appropriately to reports of domestic violence. It also provides a detailed set of recommendations on how to encourage teachers to report domestic violence. 
 
However, until the time the problems described in this article are fixed, it is questionable whether encouraging bystanders to report domestic violence will help or hurt.
08.08.2015 | Saturday

What do CB interviewers’ ratings of respondents’ intelligence tell us?

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) surveys regularly collect information about how the interviewers assess each of the conducted interviews – so called paradata that provides additional insight into the conditions surrounding the interviews (e.g., whether someone besides the respondent and the interviewer was present during the face-to-face interview), as well as interviewers’ subjective assessments of, for example, level of sincerity of the respondents.
28.06.2015 | Sunday

Finding divorce hard to justify

By Maya Komakhidze

[Note:  Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the third blog post in the series. Click 
here to see the first and second blog posts in the series.]

study carried out by the UNDP in 2013 shows that traditional views of gender roles persist in Georgia – women primarily view themselves as housewives, spouses and mothers. Unsurprisingly, in the focus group discussions conducted within the framework of the National Research on Domestic Violence project, respondents associated divorce with “disaster,” “the end of the world” and the shame of a woman returning to her parents’ home after divorce. 
28.05.2014 | Wednesday

Smoking in the South Caucasus and tobacco policy in Azerbaijan

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day as declared by the United Nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco usage is the primary reason for chronic diseases including “cancer, lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases” among other diseases.
09.06.2014 | Monday

Divorce rates in Azerbaijan

In the Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System, Revision 2 (by the United Nations), divorce is defined as “a final legal dissolution of a marriage, that is, that separation of husband and wife which confers on the parties the right to remarriage under civil, religious and/or other provisions, according to the laws of each country.” This blog post examines divorce in Azerbaijan over the years, by age group, gender and by duration of marriage. The post also explores perceptions of happiness among divorced Azerbaijanis and those who are not divorced. 
07.07.2014 | Monday

Facebook usage in Azerbaijan

On February 3rd, 2014, Facebook celebrated its 10th anniversary. According to the World Map of Social Networks December, 2013 statistics, Facebook is the world’s most popular social network with more than one billion users. It is followed by QZone with 552 million users, Vkontakte (190 million users), Odnoklassniki (45 million users), and Cloob (1 million users). However, it is important to note that social network usage is not distributed evenly geographically. 
28.07.2014 | Monday

Are more educated women in Georgia choosing not to have children?

Some social scientists, such as Satoshi Kanazawa, argue that a woman’s education level can impact her willingness to have children. However, Linda Hirshman, a scholar of women’s issues, questions Kanazawa’s findings by arguing that reproduction is a culturally-inflected decision. Additionally, Gary Becker hypothesizes that women with higher education might not feel economic pressure such that marriage is economically advantageous.
13.11.2014 | Thursday

Exploring Homophobia in Georgia: Part 2

This is the second blog post in a series analyzing homophobia in Tbilisi. The first blog post in this series can be found here. 

Who tends to be more homophobic in Tbilisi – men or women? This blog post explores differences in homophobic attitudes between males and females using data from CRRC-Georgia’s survey of Tbilisi residents on the events of May 17, 2013, and shows that men tend to be more homophobic than women. Moreover, the findings show that men are more homophobic when they believe that homosexuality is inborn, rather than acquired.
30.11.2015 | Monday

Parenting, gender attitudes and women’s employment in Georgia

In Georgia, unemployment is high, and it is higher among women than men. Policy changes are definitely needed not only to increase the employment opportunities, but also to ensure more equal employment opportunities for men and women.
29.09.2011 | Thursday

Is the South Caucasus a homogenous region?

In a recent datablog, the Guardian published a map visualizing how the former Soviet countries are doing 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. The map compares the 15 former Soviet countries in terms of economic development, demographics and democratic transition. It also divides the countries into five regions: Russia, the Baltic countries, the EU borderlands, Central Asia and the South Caucasus.
26.12.2011 | Monday

Boy or Girl? Child Gender Preference in the South Caucasus

Survey data shows that there is a strong preference for male children over female children throughout the South Caucasus. As mentioned in the March 4, 2010 edition of The Economist, after 1991 there has been an increase in the ratio of boys to girls in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The sex ratio rose from 103-106 boys to 100 girls in 1991 to 115-120 boys to 100 girls by 2000. The 2010 Caucasus Barometer (CB) indicates that gender preferences in the South Caucasus remain skewed in favor of males with 54% of Armenians, 27% of Azerbaijanis and 46% of Georgians prefer to have male children if given a choice.
19.03.2010 | Friday

Gender imbalances | The South Caucasus on the top of the list

Earlier this month The Economist published two articles (article onearticle two) on imbalances in gender. In all societies there is, at birth, a sex ratio slightly biased in favor of boys: 103-106 boys to 100 girls. The number evens out later on as male babies have a higher mortality rate than female babies. In some parts of the world, however, there currently is an abnormally high number of boys being born.
10.12.2010 | Friday

Policy Attitudes towards Women in Azerbaijan: Is Equality Part of the Agenda?

By Yuliya Aliyeva Gureyeva, Baku

The paper published in the 21st edition of the Caucasus Analytical Digest presents an account of how two competing policy approaches coexist in the policy attitudes towards women in Azerbaijan. 
04.08.2008 | Monday

Georgia: Women's Participation in Politics

Women’s participation at all levels of elections in Georgia is diminishing. As the Caucasus Women’s Network (CWN)reports, women inGeorgia were less represented in terms of candidates in the last parliamentary elections than in any previous parliamentary elections inGeorgia’s democratic history. On the other hand, women’s low political participation in elected bodies belies women’s activeness in civil society institutions, where females appear to be very active.
13.11.2008 | Thursday

World Economic Forum Gender Gap Index | a few surprises

Indices are engaging and instructive, but some really baffle us. The World Economic Forum (WEF), the organisation that organises the annual high-profile Davos meetings, has come up with a gender index, and the Caucasus is featured. The index is intended to measure how the world is closing the gender gap in education, health, and political and economic participation. In principle, this is a great idea, since there are significant challenges and discrepancies (as our data itself shows).
08.03.2017 | Wednesday

Rights Instead of Flowers

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th. In Georgia many women receive flowers on this day. Instead, some are asking for protection of their rights. This data highlights the situation of and attitudes towards women in Georgia, based on official statistics and public opinion research.
14.03.2017 | Tuesday

Reported attitudes towards domestic violence in Georgia

Recently, there have been reports of homicides of spouseschildrensiblings, and parents in Georgia. The October 2014 CRRC/NDI survey provides insights into what the population of Georgia thinks about domestic violence in general.
25.12.2017 | Monday

Gender (in)equality on TV

Stereotypes are an inseparable part of every society, and present in many parts of everyday life. Georgian society is no exception in this regard. For example, some professions like teaching are stereotypically thought of as “women’s professions” while others like being a soldier are considered “men’s professions”.  The media is considered one of the strongest means through which stereotypes are strengthened or broken. In Georgia, TV is the most important media, given that according to CRRC/NDI data, 73% of the population of the country name television as their primary source of the information. In order to understand the dynamics around gender-based stereotypes on TV, CRRC-Georgia monitored the main evening news releases and political talk shows broadcast during prime time (from 18:00 to 00:00) on five national and three regional channels from September 11 to November 12, 2017 (Channel One of the Public Broadcaster, Adjara, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro, Trialeti, Gurjaani, Odishi) with the support of the UN Joint Program for Gender Equality with support from UNDP Georgia and the Swedish government.
12.03.2018 | Monday

Dissecting Attitudes towards Pre-Marital Sex in Georgia

Many in Georgia embrace conservative attitudes about premarital sex, as a previous CRRC blog post highlighted. Attitudes are different, however, depending whether it’s a male or a female having the premarital relationship. This blog post uses data from CRRC’s 2017 Knowledge of and attitudes toward the EU in Georgia survey (EU survey) conducted for Europe Foundation to describe how justified or unjustified people of varying ages, genders, and those living in different types of settlements believe pre-marital sex to be for men and women.
26.03.2018 | Monday

Women Significantly Less Likely to Go Out to Eat in Georgia

Busy restaurants and cafes are a common sight in Georgia, and CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data suggest that restaurants and cafes have become busier over the last five years. While 27% of Georgia’s population reported going to a restaurant in 2012, five years later 50% did. There is an upward trend for both men and women, yet the data also suggests there is a significant gender gap. Taking into account other social and demographic characteristics, women are significantly less likely to go to restaurants than men.
24.07.2018 | Tuesday

Livestock care and livestock-related decision making in rural Georgia: Are there any gender differences?

CRRC-Georgia’s survey conducted in August 2017 for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) asked about livestock owned by rural households in Georgia, including cows, bulls, buffalo, pigs, sheep, and goats. Cows and bulls were reported to be owned most commonly. Some of the questions the project addressed the division of tasks between men and women in taking care of livestock, while other questions tried to find out whether there were gender differences in making major decisions related to livestock and livestock products.
17.06.2019 | Monday

Do Georgians understand what gender equality means?

The terms ‘gender equality’ and ‘feminism’ are increasingly used in public discourse in Georgia. In 2010, Georgia passed a law on gender equality. Popular TV shows often discuss the topic, and Georgia’s Public Defender reports on the issue. Yet, survey data shows that Georgians often appear not to understand what gender equality means.
03.09.2019 | Tuesday

Internal Displacements’ Impact on Attitudes towards Gender Relations

As a result of the conflicts in the 1990s and in 2008 in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, nearly 6 percent of Georgia’s population is internally displaced. Previous studies have suggested that internal displacement from conflict can alter attitudes towards gender relations, and specifically perceptions of women’s household authority, tolerance of domestic violence, and attitudes towards women earning money.
10.02.2020 | Monday

Despite large drop in son preference, a third of Georgians still prefer having a boy to a girl

Preferences for the gender of children has a long history around the world and Georgia is no exception. CRRC-Georgia examines how attitudes have changed over the last decade.

In Georgia, having a boy has traditionally been desirable as sons are often considered the main successors in the family line, and they stay at home to take care of their parents as they age in contrast to women who traditionally move in with their husband’s family.