Coronavirus: Calls and emails about children in violent homes nearly doubled in lockdown

Calls and emails to a helpline about children trapped in violent homes have risen by a monthly average of 49% since lockdown, new figures show.

From the start of April until the end of August, the NSPCC helpline recorded more than 4,500 messages from members of the public, with 818 in August alone.

The monthly average for the period was 903 reports, up from an average of 607 from January to 23 March, when national restrictions were introduced.

In May, the NSPCC recorded its highest number of messages about children living with domestic abuse at 1,017.

The coronavirus pandemic and the months spent in lockdown have been blamed for the rise.

The charity is calling for the government to introduce a legal requirement for funding for local authorities to provide recovery services for children who live with domestic abuse.

It also wants agencies to sign up to deliver its community-based recovery service – Domestic Abuse Recovering Together (Dart) – which works with mothers and children who have suffered abuse.

Emily Hilton, senior policy and public affairs officer at the NSPCC, said: “The pandemic has shone a spotlight on children who are living with the daily nightmare of domestic abuse.”

She said the government had already taken an “important step” by amending the Domestic Abuse Bill to recognise that children affected by domestic abuse are victims in their own right.

She added: “They should underpin this by creating a statutory duty on local agencies to provide specialist community-based services for children impacted by domestic abuse.

“This must be backed up by funding for local agencies.

“Now more than ever it is crucial the government grasps the landmark opportunity offered by the Domestic Abuse Bill to ensure children get the protection and support they need.”

The NSPCC said it has supported more than 2,000 women and children across the UK with its Dart services over the last decade.

It said growing demand for services like Dart to help families deal with the effects of abuse during lockdown means more agencies are now needed to help deliver it.

One mother and one of her sons were referred to Dart after continued domestic abuse by her husband culminated in an attack that left her with a broken nose and cuts to her wrists.

She said: “I didn’t see myself as a domestic abuse victim, but I agreed to attend the two-hour sessions, once a week for 10 weeks.

“In week one I didn’t have much to say, but when we got to week five the Dart group looked at the controlling and isolating side of domestic abuse, and it hit me that my life had been terrible for years and I was a victim of domestic abuse.

“I realised that there had been a breakdown of communication between my son and I.

“Dart really has helped me and my son a lot. The NSPCC saved me and saved my relationship with my son.”

Victims suffering abuse should call 999 and press 55. If you can’t press 55 remain silent and it will automatically connect to the police. For those seeking support there is also a national 24-hour refuge number 0808 2000247.

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