Almost 700 children are at risk of domestic violence every day, analysis by children's charity Action for Children has found.
Based on official figures from the Department for Education, the analysis finds that more than 25,000 children will be at risk of domestic abuse during the General Election period alone.
As many cases go unreported, it is likely that these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, the charity warns.
Action for Children’s chief executive, Julie Bentley, said: “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."
The charity warns that the fate of the Domestic Abuse Bill hangs in the balance because of the chaos surrounding Brexit. The bill has fallen twice as it passed through parliament to become law – "firstly due to the government’s ill-fated Prorogation attempt and now because of the General Election," it adds.
Action for Children’s report also reveals many children facing domestic abuse are living at the mercy of a ‘postcode lottery’ without specialist services support. The charity worked on an investigation with the University of Stirling into domestic abuse services across England and Wales, including in-depth interviews with representatives from 30 councils.
The report highlights:
- Over 10% of councils interviewed had no specialist support services for children affected by domestic abuse
- Access to children’s domestic abuse services was restricted by their postcode in over a third of local authorities
- Two thirds of local authorities interviewed say their services for children are at risk in the long-term due to limited funding.
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.
“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. And the next Prime Minister must bring in a National Childhood Strategy to make sure children across the country have a safe and happy childhood," she concluded.
Action for Children’s new report analysed the Department for Education’s most recent Children in Need Census data.
Cllr Katrina Wood, Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Tackling domestic abuse is an issue that councils take very seriously which is why we support further measures to improve work with local partners to help support more victims and stop this horrendous crime.
“Surging demand on children’s services means that councils are increasingly being forced to prioritise spending for those at immediate risk of harm, rather than on vital earlier support services and prevention schemes which help stop domestic abuse occurring in the first place.
“The next government needs to ensure councils have long-term and sustainable funding to help protect children and families from harm," she concluded.