A way to predict violence after separation

York University psychology Professor Desmond Ellis, a senior scholar at York’s LaMarsh Research Centre on Violence and Conflict Resolution, has recently developed an assessment tool called DOVE, or Domestic Violence Evaluation, to predict violence after a couple separates, reported the Toronto Star March 12 in the wake of a Toronto man hurling his daughter off a bridge and then jumping to his death. Being piloted at two Ontario family courts, it ranks, on a score of 0-15, a former partner’s likelihood of continued violence. Ellis’s tool is based on the observation that, while most couples are able to separate and work out child custody arrangements amicably, a situation can turn violent when certain other factors are present. We now know, he said, that certain situations that existed in the marriage can predict the likelihood of future violence, notably physical or mental abuse, a husband’s mental health problems, police involvement, drinking or drug use, outbursts of anger, and blaming the wife for all problems in the relationship.

Connecting with other moms best way to cope

“A generation ago, raising kids was spontaneous and organic,” says Andrea O’Reilly, 43, women’s studies professor and director of York’s Centre for Research on Mothering, reported the Toronto Star March 12.. “Now, you really have to make an effort to connect, and it’s very structured.” O’Reilly and some other experts worry that the growing preoccupation with early learning and school readiness has led to a spree of parenting programs that overlook the needs of mothers. “They’re about the baby or the infant or the toddler or the preschooler, and the mother is an afterthought. Could you really go into one of these moms-and-tots programs and say, ‘Last night, I thought I was going to strangle my kid’?” O’Reilly advocates a return to the community-based moms-and-tots gatherings that were common in the 1980s.

York land sale to be reviewed

York University has appointed a retired Ontario judge to review the sale of campus land to Tribute Communities developer, reported the Toronto Star March 12 and CBC TV’s “Canada Now” March 11. Edward Saunders, who retired from the bench in 1997, was chosen by York after a two-week search for a reviewer who would be “independent and respected.” Marshall Cohen, Chair of York’s Board of Governors, said Saunders will be given access to all land sale documents in York’s possession and the University will make available “all personnel whom Mr. Saunders would like to interview.”

Subway to York is one reason Toronto needs new deal

The Toronto Star’s Royson James listed 91 reasons why Toronto needs a new deal in his March 12 column. Number 70 is the current freeze on TTC expansion. “Everyone thinks a line to York University is great. There is no revenue source to pick up the $2 billion price tag.”

Businesses target youngsters during March break

It’s been nearly three months since many students have had a break from school, and Toronto-area businesses and attractions are pulling out all the stops to persuade young people to spend, reported the Toronto Star March 14. “Marketers are trying to get people to part with their money (during March break),” said Alan Middleton, professor of marketing at York’s Schulich School of Business. “They want to get customers in the doors and buying. It’s a very brief period of time like Hallowe’en, when it’s just about selling the candy.”

Bombardier strategy puts the squeeze on labour

Bombardier Aerospace workers in different plants are competing to win production of the company’s proposed new C-series jet, reported the Toronto Star March 14. While dangling the carrot of 2,500 new jobs, the aircraft builder approached workers in plants in its various plants to see what costs could be cut before deciding where to locate final assembly. “These guys are poker players. The notion that Bombardier is really squeezed is dubious, to put it mildly. What they’re doing is unethical given the pressures working people are under,” said Leo Panitch, a political science professor at York University and co-author of From Consent to Coercion – The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms. “Corporations are playing [globalization] to the hilt,” he added. “Anyone who tells you this is a process without an author is not telling you the truth. These things are done by human beings.”

More reporting may explain rising sex harassment rates

The anecdotal appearance of an increasing number of incidents of sexual harassment among young people could be the result of more reporting, and “an increased recognition that this is unacceptable,” says Debra Pepler, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, reported the Ottawa Citizen March 12. Pepler has done numerous studies on bullying and aggressive behaviour among adolescents. She said attitudinal changes in society may have allowed victims to feel more confident about reporting incidents about which they would have previously remained silent. It is also possible, said Pepler, that certain incidents quickly escalate and become “more serious forms of bullying or harassment more quickly than it did before.”

Musical presents false image of wartime Austria

Some critics have indignantly complained that The Sound of Music presents a false image of Austria, full of cliches about yodelling goatherds and lederhosen, wrote the Toronto Star’s Martin Knelman in a March 12 column about a new stage production in Vienna. But what upset them even more was the fact that the show raises the question of Nazi rule and how little Austria did to resist it, he added and then quoted Irving Abella, a history professor in York’s Faculty of Arts. “The Austrians like to portray themselves as the first victims of Nazi oppression,” said Abella. “But the fact is that when Germany annexed Austria in 1938, crowds were cheering the Nazis in the streets, and the press was very favourable.”

On air

  • To mark the 100th anniversary of what has become known as Einstein’s miracle year, we answer the question of why Einstein matters with a public discussion at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, announced host Bob McDonald on CBC Radio’s “Quirks and Quarks” March 12. During a few brief months in 1905, Einstein, an obscure 26-year-old patent clerk in Bern, Switzerland, published four extraordinary science papers that would change the laws of physics and our ideas about the universe, said McDonald.