The toxic experience of growing up with domestic abuse might be putting children at risk of sexual abuse and offending, a report published today (February 25) by Barnardo’s revealed.
The report, ‘Not Just Collateral Damage’ found that the trauma of living with domestic abuse can last long into adulthood if children do not get specialist support at the earliest opportunity.
Staff from the charity’s harmful sexual behaviour services said domestic abuse is a contributing factor in a lot of cases they see, and reported supporting a number of teenagers whose violent abusive relationships have turned to criminality.
The service said their abusers, whom they consider to be ‘boyfriends’, used coercive control to pressure them into becoming drug runners and dealers for them.
The report also found evidence of a link between domestic abuse and young offenders, with 25% of boys and 40% of girls in custody reporting violence at home.
Researchers said that around 692 children are referred to social services every day in England due to domestic abuse. That’s almost 29 cases an hour.
But shockingly support services for these children are in short supply, with only 197 services across England catering specifically for children and young people.
The charity is calling on the government to include a requirement in its domestic abuse bill for local authorities to provide specialist services for child victims of domestic abuse.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: ‘For far too long child victims of domestic abuse have been ignored, often spending their lives struggling to cope with the impact of this trauma
‘Failing to identify and support these children is a false economy. Every day in our services across the UK, we support children who have experienced domestic abuse and gone on to suffer sexual abuse, poor mental health and exploitation by gangs.
‘The new bill is a unique opportunity to put this right. All children exposed to domestic abuse must have access to the specialist support they need to end the toxic cycle and make sure they don’t suffer in silence.’
Children and families minister Vicky Ford said consultation launched today will introduce changes to the role of Designated Safeguarding Leads in schools, aimed at helping the 1.6 million children who have needed help and protection from a social worker at some point in the last six years.
‘We know that on average, three children in every classroom need a social worker.
‘We also know that far too many of those children fall behind, which is why I am determined to be ambitious for these children and ensure they are seen, safe and able to succeed.
‘Teachers and social workers are some of the most dedicated professionals in society, delivering for children up and down the country.
‘But I do not want any child to slip through the cracks, which is why we are consulting on having a dedicated senior leader in schools to make sure schools know who their vulnerable children are, set high aspirations for them and put in place the right support so they can achieve.’
Photo credit – Pixabay