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Children who witness domestic abuse need more help

A new report from think tank the Centre for Social Justice has called for an overhaul of government policies to help the nearly three million children who have witnessed domestic abuse.

The report highlights the scarring psychological impact of living with domestic abuse, which it says is just as significant as being physically abused. A major failing in state-sanctioned measures to curb domestic abuse is the lack of priority given to the needs of children who suffer the trauma of living alongside domestic violence.

The report sets out a comprehensive, relationship-based understanding of domestic abuse which forms the basis of identifying the best programmes and approaches.

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • Both central government and local authorities should fund and evaluate pilot programmes aimed at building restorative mother-child and father-child relationships following domestic abuse in the home, at the same time as providing counselling and therapy to children living with violence.
  • All local authorities need to come together with statutory and voluntary agency partners to design and implement a system of integrated multi-agency working that proactively identifies at risk children and responds to them and their families with timely offers of help.
  • Given that most victims and their children access support at the GP’s surgery or in hospital, more effective help for domestic abuse should be concentrated in health services.

Christian Guy, Managing Director of the Centre for Social Justice said, “In order to break damaging cycles of domestic abuse we need to support the millions of child witnesses who live as silent and fearful victims caught in the crossfire.

“It is time for concerted cross party action to make them a priority. Too many who need our help are left damaged and devastated by an unchecked legacy of abuse.”

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