Greater focus on children recommended in cases of domestic abuse

Ofsted and three other agencies are due to publish a report on 19th September 2017, which deals primarily with the impact of domestic abuse on children.

The report states that focusing on the needs and experiences of children is critical.

A failure to adequately focus on the experiences and needs of children means there is a high risk that the emotional and mental impact of domestic abuse will go unaddressed.

“Children and young people who have lived with domestic violence for several years frequently experience intense feelings of responsibility, guilt, anger and a sense of despair and powerlessness over their lives.”

The impact of domestic abuse on children is often widely overlooked. Much attention is paid to ensuring the victim, together with any children of the family, are moved to a place of safety, which can sometimes be refuge accommodation.

Whilst moves away from the family home are not in themselves a bad thing and are often essential, it needs to be remembered this results in children being uprooted from their familiar surroundings, friends and family network and also their existing educational settings. The impact of this can be far reaching and extremely disruptive to the children.

In addition, if children witness and/or hear domestic abuse this can affect their expectations of relationships in later life, resulting in them either becoming a victim of domestic abuse, or an abuser.

Ofsted are of the view that schools should play an essential part in educating children regarding domestic abuse. Whilst educating children about healthy relationships is an existing part of the curriculum, Ofsted warn that this is often not prioritised by schools.

Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said:

“I want to see a new approach to tackling domestic abuse – one which focuses more on prevention and repairing long-term damage to child victims.”

It can only be hoped that the positive recommendations of the report are embraced, with a view to long-term change in respect of attitudes towards domestic abuse, hopefully resulting in a significant reduction of domestic abuse cases.

If you or anyone you know is being or has been subjected to any form of domestic violence and abuse; or advice is required whether any protective orders are required either for you, or the victim or to safeguard their children in their care; or the perpetrator has made an application in the family courts and you have to attend, don’t delay, contact the Domestic Violence and Abuse Department (DVAD) at Emery Johnson Astills, either by phoning 0116 255 4855, or by emailing DVAD@johnsonastills.com.

A specially trained member of staff in the DVAD of Emery Johnson Astills will be able to provide advice as to what measures you can take to protect yourself and also whether you may be eligible for Legal Aid.