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Children and domestic abuse

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The 2021 Domestic Abuse Act recognises children and young people as victims of domestic abuse if the child sees, hears, or experiences the effects of the abuse, and is related to either the victim or perpetrator. 


The Children’s Commissioner estimates that 3 million children under the age of 17 live in a household where an adult has experienced domestic abuse, and one in five children see or hear what happened in cases of partner abuse. 

Growing up in a household of fear and intimidation can impact children’s wellbeing and development. Living with adversity and trauma, such as domestic abuse, can have lifelong impacts on children’s mental and physical health and behaviour into adulthood.

The  “Not Just Collateral Damage: the hidden impact of domestic abuse on children” report, published by Barnardo’s in 2020 highlighted the significant impact on children, putting at risk their future wellbeing, their education, and their chance of forming happy, healthy relationships.

Research from Children’s Insights, England and Wales dataset 2015-18 shows that a trauma informed approach, including receiving help from specialist children’s services reduces the impact of domestic abuse on these children and young people and improves their safety and health outcomes. Their role in early intervention and prevention can be particularly crucial; evidence suggests that abusive behaviour in children living with or experiencing domestic abuse dropped from 24% to 7% after receiving appropriate support.

In Derbyshire, we know that two thirds of reported domestic abuse incidents involve children being in the home and it remains a highly prevalent factor in children’s social care.  The Department for Education’s latest annual Children in Need census found that concerns about domestic violence towards the parent were present in 43% of cases, and it remains the most common factor identified at the end of assessment.

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