Forty-six per cent of children exposed to domestic violence have had no previous dealings with social services, a charity has claimed.
Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) examined the cases of 877 children receiving support from four different domestic abuse services. Sixty-two per cent of the children had experienced emotional abuse, physical abuse or neglect themselves, as well as witnessing the abuse of one of their parents. Twenty-eight per cent of such children had been physically abused, and 18 per cent had been injured during a domestic attack on someone else. But only 54 per cent of such children had had any previous dealings with social services.
In the majority of cases, the parent who abused the adult victim abused the child as well.
According to the CAADA report, entitled In plain sight: Effective help for children exposed to domestic abuse, children who witness domestic abuse often suffer from significant emotional problems as a result. More than half had behavioural problems and just under 40 per cent had difficulties at school. A quarter had begun to display abusive behaviour themselves – usually towards other members of the family or friends, but rarely towards the parent responsible for abuse.
CAADA claims that frontline professionals and agencies do not always cooperate so some children experiencing or witnessing abuse escape notice. It calls for the creation of a network of “nominated lead professionals” to coordinate work in different areas and for domestic abuse services for children and adults to be linked.
CAADA Chief Executive Diana Barran said: “Domestic abuse is a factor in the background of two thirds of Serious Case Reviews. A number of these have made the headlines recently, including the tragic cases of Daniel Pelka and Hamzah Khan. For too long, services have worked in silos, with different assessments of risk around adult domestic abuse and children’s safeguarding. To prevent further needless deaths, leadership is needed to move agencies from a culture of referrals to one of proactive and effective joint action.”