NSPCC survey shows children fearing domestic violence at Xmas

child voice appealMore than 115,000 children aged 11 to 16 years fear domestic violence will break out in their families this Christmas, reveals a new NSPCC survey.(1)

The finding, released today, comes as the NSPCC launches a new campaign to stop parental violence from damaging children and young people's lives.

NSPCC head of policy and public affairs Diana Sutton said: "Our survey shows that many of these children cannot look forward to a happy family Christmas and dread seeing a parent getting punched, kicked or slapped. Christmas will hold no respite from domestic violence for thousands of children.

"We welcome the new drive by the Home Office to protect and support victims of domestic violence. We hope the extra resources and awareness will make a real difference to children witnessing domestic violence this Christmas."

To help protect children from violence, the NSPCC is calling on people to take two actions; sign a petition and donate. Over 250,000 campaigners will be encouraged to lobby the UK government give more to support children who live with domestic violence. Most of the children affected by such violence each year are left to suffer in silence without the support of refuges, outreach workers or therapeutic services. Secondly, the public will be asked to make a Christmas donation to the Child's Voice Appeal, to raise money for ChildLine and the NSPCC child protection helpline. The NSPCC is expanding its helplines, text and online counselling services to reach out to more children living with domestic violence and other abuse.

Two Million Calls Every Year

The two Helplines take over two million calls every year but tens of thousands go unanswered as limited resources means there are not enough counsellors to answer all the calls.

11 year old Sophie called ChildLine. She was sobbing and saying she was scared. Her mum's boyfriend had gone out drinking after an argument and Sophie was frightened that he would come home drunk and start beating her mum as he had in the past when drunk. Sophie was also trying to comfort her little brother because he was scared that he might see his mum punched, kicked and thrown down the stairs again.

Diana Sutton continued: "The UK government still treats domestic violence as largely an adult problem. For example, a recent parliamentary enquiry into domestic violence (3) focused almost entirely on adult experiences and needs. Hundreds of thousands of children live with parental violence every year. (4) These children are likely to be emotionally distressed. They may also put themselves in physical danger trying to protect themselves or brothers and sisters from getting hurt."

In particular The NSPCC is calling for:

  • Adequate support services for children and families affected, so that
    when they speak out, they know they'll be safe and supported. Current government funded provision is not enough. Last year 17,406 women and 25,384 children stayed in refuge accommodation (5). Despite the evident need, one in three local authorities does not have a women's refuge (6).
  • Training for professionals to identify children living with domestic violence so that whenever adults are working with domestic violence, they think about the children affected too.

Education about domestic violence in schools and other youth settings so all children learn that the violence is not their fault and how to stay safe.

To make a donation or learn more about the Child's Voice Appeal visit their website >>