Thousands of children witness domestic abuse

By Tim Clarke Monday 03 December 2012 Updated: 06/12 16:44

MORE THAN 3,500 children or young people were exposed to the devastating effects of domestic abuse in homes across Worcestershire during the first nine months of this year.

Worcestershire's Safeguarding Children Board has revealed 3,527 youngsters found themselves caught up in the 6,857 domestic abuse incidents which were reported in the county from January to September.

Of these 360 witnessed the violence three or more times and 30 on five or more occasions.

The Board has released the figures as part of its support of The 16 Days of Action, an international campaign which aims to raise awareness and bring an end to domestic abuse.

The campaign is being spearheaded locally by The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and supported by the Worcester Standard.

The reporting of domestic abuse incidents has increased by 21 per cent across West Mercia in the last four years.

Diana Fulbrook, Independent Chair of Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Board, said: "The impact of domestic abuse on children and young people is a priority area for the Board because of the harm we know it causes. The evidence is clear and we know it can affect them for the rest of their lives."

"We need to be vigilant about spotting those most at risk so we can make sure they receive the help and support they need to feel safe," she added.

"This is the right of every child so we ask that people be aware of this and refer any concerns to someone who can help.”

Children can witness abuse in a variety of ways including getting caught up in the middle of violence as they try to prevent harm to a loved one, or they may be in another room but are able to hear the abuse or see the physical injuries afterwards.

They may even be forced to take part in verbally abusing the victim.

Martin Lakeman, strategic co-ordinator for the Forum said: “The effect on children who witness domestic abuse can be extremely damaging and it is a major priority of our work in the county to offer them help, safety and protection. The recent figures announced by the Board are concerning but we are heartened that victims are coming forward to seek the help that is available.”

The 16 Days of Action runs until December 10 with a host of events taking place across the country.

One of the main activities focuses on organisations, schools and residents who are being encouraged to place their hand prints on a canvas which will make up a mural entitled 'These hands are not for hurting'.

To speak in confidence about domestic abuse call 0800 980 3331.

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