More than 6,000 children living in Lancashire were affected by domestic abuse last year, according to new figures from the NSPCC.Advertisement
Preston domestic abuse services are backing calls from the charity to recognise children living with domestic violence as victims in their own rights.
The move would allow services to apply for government funding to support children affected by domestic violence, and give them protection in law through domestic violence prevention orders.
Salma Ali, manager of Preston Domestic Violence Services (PDVS), said: “Children are very much the hidden and forgotten victims.”
In 2017/18, domestic abuse was a factor in 6,116 Child in Need assessments carried out by Lancashire County Council – but this figure does not reveal the full picture, as many children continue to suffer in silence.
The NSPCC is calling for ‘witnessing domestic abuse’ to be classed as a type of abuse in a new white paper, which redefines the meaning of domestic violence.
Ms Ali said: “They are absolutely right in what they are doing. It would make it easier to be able to make the government put funding aside for children’s services, rather than funding adult services and thinking they have resolved the issue.
“There is more work that needs to be done.”
A spokesman for the NSPCC said: “The Government’s proposed new definition of domestic abuse ignores the effect growing up in abusive households has on children, despite it being a factor in more than half of child protection assessments across England last year.”
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Following a consultation which ended in May 2018, the Government’s Domestic Violence and Abuse White Paper has yet to be published.
Giving legal recognition to children living with abuse would give greater explicit protection through domestic abuse protection orders, would help professionals to take action to protect children at risk, and would help authorities ensure there are specific services to help young people overcome the trauma of exposure to domestic abuse.
Almudena Lara, Head of Policy at the NSPCC, said: “It is quite astonishing that the government is dragging its feet when deciding whether to recognise young people as victims when almost a quarter of a million children that we know of are living with domestic abuse in England alone.
“As well as the day-to-day distress that living with domestic abuse creates, it can cause long-term problems into adulthood that can only be addressed through targeted services that understand the complex trauma children living with domestic abuse experience.
“For this to be done effectively we need government to open their eyes to the harm domestic abuse has on children and give them victim status in the upcoming White Paper to ensure they receive the services they need.”
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Adults concerned about a child living with domestic abuse can contact the NSPCC Helpline confidentially for advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org