Child victims of domestic violence 'could become collateral damage of Brexit'

21 November 2019, 10:57

Action for Children is urging all parties to prioritise a Bill on domestic abuse after the previous Bill was dropped because of prorogation.
Action for Children is urging all parties to prioritise a Bill on domestic abuse after the previous Bill was dropped because of prorogation. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Child victims of domestic violence could become "collateral damage of Brexit" if action is not taken, a charity has said.

Action for Children is urging all parties to prioritise a Bill on domestic abuse after the previous Bill was dropped because of prorogation.

Their research suggests one in ten local authorities have no specialist support services for youngsters affected by the issue, while two-thirds say their existing services are at risk due to lack of funding.

The charity carried out research with the University of Stirling, including interviews with staff from 30 local councils.

Action for Children, the NSPCC and Barnardo's are urging the next Government to bring in measures to guarantee support.

The Domestic Abuse Bill would have obliged local authorities to provide shelter to families fleeing violence, as well as creating a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to champion the rights of victims.

Action for Children's chief executive Julie Bentley said: "Leave or Remain, our politicians must not allow children living in the terrifying shadow of domestic abuse to become part of the collateral damage of Brexit.

"Every day our frontline workers see the emotional scars of domestic abuse on children. From nightmares, flashbacks and bed-wetting to depression, or even wanting to end their lives, the effects can last a lifetime.

"Too many are facing these horrors unnoticed or without the right help, and we have to recognise these children for what they are - victims, not just witnesses.

"These vulnerable children desperately need help from our politicians. We're urging all parties to commit to prioritising a Bill on domestic abuse in the next parliament and fund the specialist services children desperately need."

Figures from the Department for Education estimated that around 252,580 children in England and Wales were affected by domestic violence in 2018/19.

Anna Edmundson from the NSPCC said: "Living with domestic abuse strips away a child's sense of security and can have a devastating impact on their emotional wellbeing and mental health.

"Right now the law simply does not recognise that this sort of abuse can derail a childhood and there isn't enough help out there for young people who need support.

"The next Government must bring forward legislation that recognises the effect it has on families. Not only that, it must place a duty on local authorities and their partners to make sure specialist services are available to children who have experienced this nightmare."

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