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Press release

400,000 children affected by domestic abuse every year, showing the mountain to climb to support child victims of domestic abuse

Published

29 Apr 2021

Contributor

Children’s charity warns that even as the Bill becomes law, children are not getting the help they need and calls on Vicky Atkins MP to create a long-term fund.

Today (29th April), the Domestic Abuse Bill will be given Royal Assent, meaning it has passed into law, but the Early Intervention Foundation has warned that despite the progress made by the bill, for example, recognising children as victims of domestic abuse, there is a mountain to climb because 15,000 children are victims of domestic abuse every fortnight and often services supporting them have to take a “something is better than nothing” approach to providing support.  

Recent research from the charity found that: 

  • Many of these services are provided by the voluntary and community sector and are propped up by piecemeal, short-term funding from a range of sources, leaving them in a precarious position. 
  • Very few approaches to providing support for victims, especially child victims, have been evaluated to assess whether they end up improving lives.   
  • Local areas, like councils, often cannot carry out high quality evaluation of local services by themselves and central government has a vital role to play here in facilitating this.  
  • In dealing with limited and stretched services, practitioners have told EIF that they are forced to take a ‘something is better than nothing’ approach to referring children for support, for example, by looking for services with no waiting list or with fewer limitations on access. 
  • Local authority funding constraints and uncertainties remain a major challenge to the provision of local services. 
  • Local authority funding for more holistic support for children and young people, including prevention activity or longer-term therapeutic support, is often short-term and highly vulnerable to funding cuts. 

Research from the Early Intervention Foundation also found victims, including children affected by domestic abuse, are not getting the help they need. There are significant gaps in support, such as therapeutic services for children dealing with trauma, support for very young children and babies, prevention services such as those focused on perpetrators, direct support for children whose parents are not engaging with services and culturally specific interventions for minority groups.   

To better support victims, the Early Intervention Foundation is calling on the government to establish a long-term, cross-departmental fund dedicated to improving knowledge of what works to support child and adult victims of domestic abuse, and to supporting the use of this knowledge to ensure children are provided with the ‘right support at the right time’. This would:  

  • Invest in robust evaluation of promising and widely used support programmes that are being used to support children affected by domestic abuse  
  • Build consensus across the sector on a standard set of outcomes, including specifically relating to children’s wellbeing  
  • Build capacity to evaluate small-scale, local interventions including community-level provision.  
  • Support evaluation of practice-based and system-level approaches as well as specific interventions 

Support is much needed as people don’t know which way to turn 

A survey for the Early Intervention Foundation has found that many UK adults don’t know how to help victims. Only four in ten (42%) UK adults would be confident knowing where to go, or who to speak to, in order to help, if someone they knew personally revealed themselves as a victim of domestic abuse. 

The same survey has also found that almost three quarters (71%) of UK adults believe that there should be greater support provided to the victims of domestic abuse. It also found two thirds of UK adults (61%) think the government should be doing more to provide support to the victims.  

Dr Jo Casebourne, chief executive, Early Intervention Foundation commented: “We call on government minister, Vicky Atkins, to create a long-term fund that would develop and provide support that has been shown to work for children affected by domestic abuse.Given the numbers of children affected,it is vital that we fully understand how best to help them. Now the Domestic Abuse Bill is law and children are recognised as victims, the next phase of hard work, to making sure they are well supported starts now.” 

-ENDS- 

NOTES 

Methodology:  

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,725 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 21st March 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). 

About EIF: 

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children and young people at risk of experiencing negative outcomes. For more information, see: www.eif.org.uk     

MEDIA CONTACTS:   

Andy Ross, Senior Press Officer – 07949 339 975 / andy.ross@eif.org.uk  

Devastating impact of domestic abuse on children 

Children who have experienced domestic abuse are significantly more likely to experience abuse in their own adult relationships, to misuse drugs or alcohol, and to have lower levels of wellbeing. 

The impact on children and young people’s mental health can be profound. Children who live with domestic abuse are more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Domestic abuse is common 

Around one in five children in the UK experience domestic abuse during their childhood. There is emerging evidence that Covid-19 has made the situation worse for many children. Between March and December last year, during and following the first lockdown, the average number of calls each month to the NSPCC Helpline about domestic abuse increased by more than 50%. Late last year, the Early Intervention Foundation estimated that over 15,000 children could suffer domestic abuse over any two-week period.  

DA Bill 

For more information on the Domestic Abuse Bill, you can visit the government website and overarching factsheet here

About the contributor

Dr Jo Casebourne

Jo is chief executive at EIF.