690 children facing domestic violence each day of election period

A new report for Action for Children has revealed that up to 690 children are at risk of domestic violence every day in England, the equivalent of over 25,000 children during the General Election period alone.

The charity’s analysis, based on official figures from the Department for Education, comes as the fate of landmark legislation once again hangs in the balance because of the chaos surrounding Brexit. The Domestic Abuse Bill has fallen twice as it passed through parliament to become law.

Action for Children’s report also reveals that many children facing domestic abuse are living at the mercy of a ‘postcode lottery’ without the support they need from specialist services. The charity’s investigation, alongside representatives from 30 councils, showed that more than 10 per cent of councils interviewed had no specialist support services for children affected by domestic abuse and that access to children’s domestic abuse services was restricted by their postcode in over a third of local authorities. Furthermore, two thirds of local authorities interviewed say their services for children are at risk in the long-term due to limited funding.

Julie Bentley, Action for Children’s chief executive, said: “Leave or Remain, our politicians must not allow children living in the terrifying shadow of domestic abuse to become part of the collateral damage of Brexit. Every day our frontline workers see the emotional scars of domestic abuse on children. From nightmares, flashbacks and bed-wetting to depression, or even wanting to end their lives, the effects can last a lifetime. Too many are facing these horrors unnoticed or without the right help. and we have to recognise these children for what they are – victims, not just witnesses.

“These vulnerable children desperately need help from our politicians. We’re urging all parties to commit to prioritising a Bill on domestic abuse in the next Parliament and fund the specialist services children desperately need. And the next Prime Minister must bring in a National Childhood Strategy to make sure children across the country have a safe and happy childhood.”

Katrina Wood, vice chairman of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Tackling domestic abuse is an issue that councils take very seriously which is why we support further measures to improve work with local partners to help support more victims and stop this horrendous crime.

“Surging demand on children’s services means that councils are increasingly being forced to prioritise spending for those at immediate risk of harm, rather than on vital earlier support services and prevention schemes which help stop domestic abuse occurring in the first place. The next government needs to ensure councils have long-term and sustainable funding to help protect children and families from harm.”

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