Referrals about children living with domestic abuse rise by 93%

The NSPCC wants the government to legally recognise children living with domestic abuse.

Referrals from the NSPCC during the pandemic over concerns for children living with domestic abuse have soared - Credit: Contributed

Referrals from the NSPCC helpline about children facing domestic abuse have soared by 93% across the east during the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity has revealed.  

The NSPCC is making an average of 108 referrals a month to local authorities and police in the east, as adults continue to contact the charity with concerns over children living with domestic abuse since the start of the crisis. 

Latest statistics show that in the nine months since the beginning of April 2020, there were 970 referrals made in the east by the helpline. 

The NSPCC said its frontline teams are concerned that the risk of young people suffering the toxic consequences of domestic abuse has been heightened during the Covid-19 lockdowns. 

The charity has warned the situation is likely to get worse as lockdown continues, and is calling for the government to make extra provisions for child victims in its Domestic Abuse Bill.

The bill, hailed as a piece of landmark legislation, has had its second reading and is due to begin the committee stage on Monday.

The NSPCC is calling for an amendment that would legally oblige all local authorities to fund community-based recovery services for child victims.

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One member of the public who called the Helpline for advice said: “For the past few weeks, 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.”

People who experience domestic abuse in childhood can experience difficulty learning, depression, eating disorders and addiction as they go through adolescence into adulthood.

Anna Edmundson, NSPCC head of policy, said: “The risk of domestic abuse has been heightened in the last nine months with families living under increasing pressure and behind closed doors.

“To stop the pandemic having a lasting impact on children who suffer in this way it is vital they have access to support in the community to recover and move forward with their lives as not all victims can go to a refuge for support.

“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.”