Family violence, firearms and animal abuse in rural communities - forum report discussing research findings and promoting action

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This report provides an overview of a "forum" that was organized by Dr Deborah Doherty and Dr Jennie Hornosty, co-principal researchers of a study entitled “Understanding the Links: Family Violence, Firearms and Animal Abuse”. The Forum was held at the Fredericton Inn, Fredericton, New Brunswick, on May 26, 2008. The purpose of the forum was to promote discussion and action on the findings of the Family Violence, Firearms and Animal Abuse study. This is a groundbreaking study as it is one of very few research initiatives that examines the presence and effects of firearms in rural homes where actual or threatened violence towards women, children, property or animals are involved. The study used both qualitative and quantitative research methods to identify the broader cultural context of, and risk factors for, firearms misuse in selected rural communities in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. While numerous efforts were made to disseminate the findings to the public, community groups and academic audiences on the nature and extent of firearms risks in homes experiencing family violence, the researchers felt it was also important to share these findings directly with the research partners and to encourage them to discuss and act on the recommendations. The researchers hope that the findings will be used to enhance approaches to crime prevention, firearms investigations, court sanctions, and safer communities, as well as the development of better-informed intervention policies, programs and strategies designed to foster greater safety for women and other victims in rural communities across Canada.