NSPCC says more than 15,000 children living with domestic abuse in Kent

by Lauren Abbott

More than 15,000 children in Kent and Medway are living with domestic abuse.

The figures, released by the NSPCC, reveal that at least 14,000 youngsters in Kent and a further 1,400 in Medway are growing up in abusive households.

The charity is now demanding the government recognise children in such homes as victims in their own right - saying a failure to do so will miss an opportunity to protect them from the effects of domestic abuse.

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Children who witness domestic abuse must be treated as victims, says the NSPCC
Children who witness domestic abuse must be treated as victims, says the NSPCC

The Government’s proposed new definition of domestic abuse, the charity claims, ignores the effect growing up in abusive households has on children, despite it being a factor in more than half of child protection assessments across England last year (246,720), including 1,407 such assessments in Medway and more than 14,000 in Kent.

The children’s charity is urging the government to publish its Domestic Violence and Abuse White Paperas soon as possible and within it, recognise children as victims in domestic abuse laws.

Legal recognition would give children greater explicit protection through domestic abuse protection orders, says the NSPCC, as well as help professionals to take action to protect children at risk and help authorities ensure there are specific services to support young people overcome the trauma of exposure to domestic abuse.

Services such as Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART) which is offered at the NSPCC's Gillingham centre and helps children and parents recover from domestic abuse together in order to minimise the long term impact witnessing and living with abuse can have on offspring.

Between 2014 and 2018 the NSPCC worked with 159 children and adults through the DART service in Medway.

Almudena Lara, head of policy at the NSPCC, said: "It is quite astonishing that the government is dragging its feet when deciding whether to recognise young people as victims when almost a quarter of a million children that we know of are living with domestic abuse in England alone.

The NSPCC's service centre in Gillingham supports parents and children recovering from domestic abuse
The NSPCC's service centre in Gillingham supports parents and children recovering from domestic abuse

"As well as the day-to-day distress that living with domestic abuse creates, it can cause long-term problems into adulthood that can only be addressed through targeted services that understand the complex trauma children living with domestic abuse experience.

“For this to be done effectively we need government to open their eyes to the harm domestic abuse has on children and give them victim status in the upcoming White Paper to ensure they receive the services they need.”

* Adults concerned about a child living with domestic abuse can contact the NSPCC Helpline confidentially for advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

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