Domestic Abuse – the effect on children and young people
Reading this page safely
If you’re worried someone might see you have visited this page, the Women’s Aid website tells you how to cover your tracks online.
The safest way to view this page is at a library or internet café. If this isn’t possible, delete your web browser’s ‘history’ or click this button to exit quickly:
Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme – Clare’s Law
The aim of Clare’s Law is to help people to make a more informed decision on whether to continue a relationship and provide help and support when making that choice; or have recently separated. You can find out more here: Request information under Clare’s Law: Make a Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) application | Metropolitan Police
If you have been affected by domestic abuse
If you have been affected by domestic abuse, Safer Merton has information and advice:
There are also services for children who are victims of domestic abuse. Please follow this link to access the directory of support services available:
Why is domestic abuse an issue in safeguarding children and young people?
Domestic abuse is a significant child protection issue and is seen as one of the main causes of risk to the safety of children. In 90% of cases, children were in the same or the next room, and in 50% of cases, children were directly abused.
Under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, children who have witnessed domestic abuse are considered victims of domestic abuse.
Witnessing domestic abuse can have significant short and long-term effects on children’s development, resulting, for example, in eating and sleeping disorders, and emotional and behavioural problems.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour and/or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
- This definition includes so called ‘honour’ based abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
- Whilst this is not a legislative change, the definition will send a clear message to victims about what does constitute domestic abuse and abuse
Long term effects often include poor educational attainment, anti-social behaviour, youth offending, high levels of teenage pregnancy, and alcohol and drug misuse. As children become adults, they are more prone to becoming victims or perpetrators themselves. Victims living with domestic abuse are often unable to protect their children from the direct and indirect effects of abuse, despite their best efforts.
Links for more information
- Domestic violence and abuse | Merton Council
- Women’s Aid have created a website called The Hideout to help children and young people to understand domestic abuse
- Barnardo’s domestic abuse webpages
- London Safeguarding Children Board Domestic Abuse webpage
- Home Office abuse against women and girls webpages
This app is a pocket suicide prevention resource packed full of useful information and tools to help you stay safe in crisis. You can use it if you are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.
For professionals, the MSCP does offer training on domestic abuse. For more information, please click here for our training page.