Belfast Telegraph

Rise in number of Northern Ireland children traumatised by domestic violence

The NSPCC referred more than 80 domestic abuse cases affecting children in Northern Ireland to police or social services in the last two years.

Reports to the NSPCC's helpline of young people being affected by domestic abuse across the UK are on the increase.

In 2016-17 the charity referred 40 cases in Northern Ireland to either the PSNI or social services with 46 referred during the previous year - a total of 86.

David Burns, head of the adult helpline at the NSPCC in Northern Ireland, said: "Witnessing domestic abuse can have a huge impact on a child's physical and emotional wellbeing, and it is vital that children have access to the right kind of support.

"We all have a part to play in tackling domestic abuse, and it's important to pick up the phone if you're concerned so that our trained advisers can offer non-judgmental advice, discuss possibilities and take action where necessary.

"Stepping in early and putting the child at the heart of all decisions in domestic abuse cases is vital in keeping children safe."

Last year the charity received its highest ever number of contacts from adults concerned about violent and abusive behaviour around children, reaching 4,749 UK-wide - up more than three-quarters from 2012/13.

Callers sought guidance from the NSPCC's advisers after witnessing distressing things such as visible bruises, parents being hospitalised, children being exposed to rage and rough handling, and aggressive behaviour towards parents of young babies.

In Northern Ireland the NSPCC is tackling domestic abuse via an early-intervention service called Steps to Safety in Belfast, which helps families reduce stress, manage emotions, and respond calmly to conflict.

The charity's Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together service, run from its Foyle centre in Londonderry, works with survivors of domestic abuse to help get their lives back on track.

Staff at the charity are calling for the full implementation of the Executive's domestic and sexual abuse prevention strategy to be prioritised.

NSPCC research shows that one in five children has been exposed to domestic violence, with a third of those also experiencing another form of abuse.

Young people worried about domestic abuse can call Childline on 08001111.

Belfast Telegraph

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