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Generation Next: How Domestic Abuse Impacts Children

23 Febchild sits on fence watching train

The increase in the number of people experiencing domestic abuse during the pandemic has been well documented, with more people accessing advice and support services during the lockdown periods in particular. 

Children are often the hidden victims of domestic abuse. There are growing concerns that more children and young people are experiencing domestic abuse during the pandemic and are not getting the support they need. 

NSPCC Findings

Recent data from the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) has highlighted an increase in the number of calls received expressing concerns that a child might be living with domestic abuse. 

Prior to the pandemic this would typically be around 16 calls a day, but this has nearly doubled to an average of 30 calls per day. The charity is also concerned that the situation will get worse as lockdown measures continue and the domestic abuse remains undetected. 

Long-term & Short-term Effects

Experiencing domestic abuse can affect children in a number of different ways, for instance they may become withdrawn, their behaviour and work may change at school, and they may also experience difficulty sleeping. 

In the long-term, they may also experience mental health problems and alcohol and drug misuse problems. 

A concern amongst many professionals is that many of these issues could be missed because children have not been at school as they usually would be, with COVID legislation meaning home school for the majority of pupils. 

Schemes such as Operation Encompass currently see the police work more closely with schools to ensure that children and young people get the help they need, sharing important safeguarding information to protect children and put measures in place to support them. 

Looking Ahead

The issue of how domestic abuse affects children and young people has frequently appeared in debates surrounding the Domestic Abuse Bill, with calls for children to be recognised as victims too. 

More needs to be done to ensure that children receive the support that they need, minimising the impacts that this may have in both the short and long term. 

In Norfolk, Leeway have a dedicated Children and Young People’s Outreach team, but there are many areas in the country that do not have the funding to provide such services. 

The Domestic Abuse Bill needs to recognise the importance of specialist services for children and young people, as well as community-based services, and provide sufficient funding to ensure organisations are able to support everyone experiencing domestic abuse. 

Read more about our outreach services on our help and support page.

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