Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Abuse victims' children 'neglected'

The children of domestic abuse victims in London do not get enough help from support services, a report claims

Children in London whose lives are blighted by domestic violence are neglected by the services that are supposed to protect them, according to a report.

The report, commissioned by children's charity NSPCC and domestic violence charity Refuge, found that the capital's children were sometimes sidelined and isolated when adults they lived with were abused by their partner.

The charities said that local authorities had failed to ensure that children's concerns were listened to.

The report, Meeting the Needs of Children Living with Domestic Violence in London, said current policy could make it difficult for some young people to escape domestic violence as boys over 16 cannot live in refuges.

The two charities said police should be given clearer guidance for talking directly to children when they are called to incidents of domestic violence.

They added that courts should recognise a child's right to choose to avoid contact with a violent parent. But the report also highlighted some "isolated" examples of positive work.

Refuge chief executive Sandra Horley said: "Despite decades of campaigning to raise awareness of the needs of children exposed to domestic violence, Refuge is both saddened and frustrated to learn that even basic services to meet children's specific needs rarely exist, that domestic violence risk assessments are not used routinely with children and that children are often considered separately from their mothers.

"Identifying a funding stream that allows organisations like Refuge to provide integrated and equal services for abused women and their children often feels like the search for the Holy Grail, but it must be found if we are to provide long-term effective solutions for these families."

NSPCC chief executive Andrew Flanagan said: "Gaps in services come from gaps in knowledge. It is only through listening to children living in homes with domestic violence or with a mother who has fled violence that shortfalls in keeping children safe can be addressed.

"These children have witnessed or continue to witness severe abuse. Any resulting negative psychological and social impacts can be reduced with the right support. But services will never get it right if they never ask children and young people what they actually need and want."

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