The NSPCC has seen a 25% rise in referrals it makes to agencies about children experiencing domestic abuse from the very people who should protect them, new figures reveal.
The charity said the Domestic Abuse Bill, which was reintroduced to Parliament on Tuesday, risks failing children who live with the daily nightmare of violence and coercive control.
In 2018/19, there were over 450 referrals to agencies in the South West region.
Last year the NSPCC’s Helpline referred 6,642 concerns about domestic abuse – up from 5,322 in 2017/18.
The NSPCC wants to see:
- Recognition of the unique and profound effects domestic abuse has upon children who experience it.
- A statutory duty for local agencies to deliver specialist community-based services for children who experience domestic abuse.
- A commitment to fully-funded for services and an end to the postcode lottery of support that currently exists.
- Specialist support for children going through the legal system abuse, whether as victims or witnesses.
What it’s like for children …
Jess’s father Lee subjected the family to years of domestic abuse and says experiencing it for so long has had a serious long-term impact.
She said: “I was six the first time I saw Lee hit mum. He grabbed her by the throat and slapped her. When I walked in he, threw her to the ground. I have anxiety now and can’t be in noisy environments. It will affect me for the rest of my life but I want to raise awareness of domestic abuse and how it can affect children as well as adults.”
The NSPCC said the impact domestic abuse has on children like Jess who experience it needs to be recognised in legislation.
Emily Hilton, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the NSPCC, said: “Domestic abuse creates a corrosive environment at home which can put children at huge risk of physical and emotional harm, as well as affecting their long term mental health.
“Our Helpline is increasingly having to raise the alarm with local authorities about children living with domestic abuse. But without legal recognition of the impact domestic abuse has on children and a duty on local authorities to provide support services, the help they need is just not in place.”
Legal recognition of the effects experiencing domestic abuse has on children would help professionals take action to protect children at risk and put a duty on authorities to ensure there are specific services available to help young people overcome trauma.
Adults concerned about a child living with domestic abuse can contact the NSPCC Helpline confidentially for advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org