domestic abuse bill children living with domestic abuse

Calls for Better Legislation to Support Children Living With Domestic Abuse

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There’s been a fifty percent rise in contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline over children living with domestic abuse since last April.

More worried neighbours have reported hearing constant arguing and kids crying to the charity’s confidential helpline for adults worried about children.

There’s been a rise in people staying at home because of the government’s lockdown policy. This is leading to added pressure inside the home. It also offers more opportunities for anxious neighbours to report cases.

One person who called the Helpline for advice said, ‘I’ve been hearing loud and aggressive shouting between a man and woman who live a few doors away from me.

‘They’re at it pretty much every day and it generally lasts a couple of hours. Sometimes I hear their children crying when the parents are arguing. I’ve only really noticed this since I’ve been at home on furlough. I’m worried the kids aren’t being looked after properly.’

Left unchallenged this type of abuse can cause profound damage on children’s physical and mental wellbeing that can last into adulthood. 

There’s been a fifty percent rise in contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline over children living with domestic abuse since last April

Last year, the Government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Bill was amended so that children could be recognised as victims of domestic abuse.

The Bill has been continuing its journey through the House of Lords. Charities are looking for a further amendment which would place a statutory duty on local agencies to provide community-based services and support which children could access wherever they live. 

Left unchallenged domestic abuse can cause profound damage on children’s physical and mental wellbeing [Image: Little Pig Studio, Shutterstock]

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said,  ‘The Domestic Abuse Bill is a unique opportunity to make sure that all victims, including children, can access the support they need. However, to achieve this the Bill must be strengthened before it becomes law.

‘As it stands the Bill risks creating a two-tier system, with adults and children living in refuges having access to specialist services, but the majority of victims who remain in the family home falling through the cracks.’

Charities are looking for a further amendment which would place a statutory duty on local agencies to provide community-based services and support which children could access

Anna Edmundson, NSPCC Head of Policy, said, ’The Government has taken the crucial step of recognising the profound impact domestic abuse has on children’s wellbeing but they now need to go further and ensure there are services for children in the community, wherever they live.’

The charity’s Domestic Abuse Recovering Together (DART) programme is one example of community-based service which supports children caught up in domestic abuse. The impact of lockdown has led to an increase in demand for services like these. Charities, therefore, see a need to rapidly increase the help they can offer. 

Children living with domestic abuse may go on to experience trouble learning or to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. They can also develop eating disorders as well as drug or alcohol-related problems.

[Header Image: Africa Studio, Shutterstock]