Children affected by domestic abuse are some of the most vulnerable in the country.
It is estimated that over 800,000 children are affected by domestic abuse. We know domestic abuse by a parent is the most common factor of all children assessed to be in need by local authority children's services.
COVID-19 has led to an increase in domestic abuse, whilst children have been ‘hidden’ from services. Children growing up in a household with domestic abuse are more likely to face future harms such as developing mental health issues and experiencing abusive intimate relationships of their own.
We see first-hand the devastating impact of domestic abuse on children’s health and future outcomes.
Our specialist domestic abuse services across the UK support victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse, including safety planning and therapeutic work. However, domestic abuse also features as a characteristic in many of our other services. I, From June 2019 to July 2020, 70 per cent of Barnardo’s frontline staff supporting children and families affected by domestic abuse.
What has changed?
We called on the Government to ensure the Domestic Abuse Bill reflect children’s experience of domestic abuse and the support they need to recover from trauma. Alongside provision in the Bill, the Government have:
- Amended the Domestic Abuse Bill to include children as victims of domestic abuse.
- Committed to updating the ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ guidance to include domestic abuse and coercive control.
- Committed ‘to consult on the provision of community-based domestic abuse services’ in summer 2021.
What needs to happen?
Now we need to ensure that all children no matter where they live can access the support they need to recover.
We are calling on the Government to ensure that the consultation they have committed to takes a whole family approach to tackling domestic abuse, by introduction a statutory duty to commission specialist support for all persons affected – child an adult victim and perpetrators.
Our report provides insight from our services about why early intervention and support is vital for children impacted by domestic abuse to overcome trauma and achieve a positive future.