Domestic violence and abuse was a factor in just under 50% of all assessments that identified Children in Need in England in 2016-17, according to the Department for Education. This involved domestic violence against children directly, that they witnessed someone else being abused or both. As I talk to Designated Safeguarding Leads around the country, domestic abuse is highlighted as a common safeguarding concern. Witnessing or experiencing domestic abuse is classed as ‘significant harm’ under the law and it is important that we are clear about our local referral procedures when domestic violence is known or suspected. That being said, the numbers of cases are huge and, as educators, we will be dealing with children and young people who are living with the long term affects of abuse.
Domestic abuse cuts across socio-economic & cultural boundaries. Some of the long term consequences of domestic abuse on children can be:
• Feelings of anger, guilt, shame, fear and depression
• Acting out, being aggressive, prone to nightmares and bedwetting
• Feeling responsible, low self-esteem, isolating themselves from others and difficulty trusting
Of course, not all children will respond in the same way. This domestic abuse infographic highlights a broader range of possible long term effects on children.
If domestic abuse related concerns are something we see in our school/ college or setting, it is important that we provide our staff with training and approaches that we can all use to support young people and try to alleviate the negative long-term effects. There are a number of organisations that offer training for front line staff on working with victims of domestic violence and abuse. You may consider sending a member of staff for expert training that they can share with all staff.
SafeLives are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. They combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives.
Womensaid provide expert training, qualifications and consultancy to a range of agencies. This includes professionals working with survivors or those commissioning domestic abuse services.
Refuge provides training to frontline professionals in Police, Education, Social Care, Health and Housing.