The NSPCC has raised concerns about an increase in domestic abuse as the average monthly contacts to the children’s charity has soared since last March when the first lockdown began.
The children’s charity helpline is receiving an average of over 30 contacts a day from adults worried about children living with domestic abuse. The monthly average number of contacts between April and December 2020 was 53% higher than the pre-lockdown average. There were 8,371 contacts made during this time, peaking at 1,053 contacts in the month of November.
Anna Edmundson, NSPCC head of policy, said: “The risk of domestic abuse has been heightened in the last nine months with families living under increasing pressure and behind closed doors.
“To stop the pandemic having a lasting impact on children who suffer in this way it is vital they have access to support in the community to recover and move forward with their lives as not all victims can go to a refuge for support.
“The government has taken the crucial step of recognising the profound impact domestic abuse has on children’s wellbeing but they now need to go further and ensure there are services for children in the community, wherever they live,” she added.
A concerned neighbour calling the NSPCC helpline said: “For the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing loud and aggressive shouting between a man and woman who live a few doors away from me. They’re at it pretty much every day and it generally lasts a couple of hours. Sometimes I hear their children crying when the parents are arguing. I’ve only really noticed this since I’ve been at home on furlough. I’m worried the kids aren’t being looked after properly.”
Neighbours are increasingly alerting the charity to worries about children which has raised fears among the NSPCC’S frontline teams. Having seen the rise in calls, they are worried about the consequences of domestic abuse on children as when this form of abuse isn’t dealt with, it can have long-term impacts on children’s physical and mental wellbeing that can last into adulthood.
Young people who experience domestic abuse can have difficulties learning, depression or suicidal thoughts, or develop eating disorders, drug or alcohol problems.
Last year the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill recognised that children do experience domestic abuse and could also be victims. The NSPCC are urging the government to make a further amendment to fund community-based services for children, run by local agencies.
The NSPCC’s Domestic Abuse Recovering Together (DART) is a community-based programme which supports mothers and children to deal with the impact of domestic abuse. Given the increased need for services like DART to help families deal with the effects of abuse during lockdown, the children’s charity wants to expand the service.
Services such as DART can help increase mothers’ self-esteem and confidence in parenting and affection towards their children, reduce children’s emotional and behavioural difficulties and help practitioners, mothers and children work together.
Find out more about the NSPCC’s services.