Increase in baby victims of domestic abuse
15th May 2017
Recent analysis of our grant-giving has shown a staggering growth in the number of young victims exposed to domestic abuse with figures showing that the number of grants awarded to families affected by domestic abuse rose by 22% between 2015 and 2016.
Shockingly, nearly 10,000 children who were referred to us last year had been affected by domestic abuse – out of these 3,384 children were aged four or under. This represents an increase of 35% on the number of cases in this age group compared to the year before.
Although our grant-giving was setup to support children and young people who are in financial hardship and are dealing with other serious social issues, domestic abuse is consistently becoming the primary reason across all of the nations as to why we get referrals.
When we analysed reasons as to why families were referred to Buttle UK during the last 5 years, 27% stated the primary or secondary reason for support was domestic abuse. This equates to 15,483 of 57,024 cases referred to us during this time.
Of the children and young people supported by our grants over the last 5 years, 35,380 out of 121,540 were affected by domestic abuse. We registered a 29% increase in the number of children in this category last year. The types of abuse registered included physical, mental and sexual abuse. In most cases the children had witnessed the abuse taking place in the home, often on an ongoing basis. For many their behaviour had become either withdrawn or challenging as a result.
Domestic abuse is an extensive and largely under-reported problem across the UK. Support services often assume that a child’s needs can be met by addressing the needs of the abused parent. The increase in referrals we have seen may be a result of better awareness of the issue in general, but we still believe that the specific issues that children face in these situations are not being identified and met.
We believe that this is the tip of the iceberg.
It is estimated that 20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse, but there has been very little published data in this area. The high number of children affected by the issue is key to the rationale for our ‘Chances for Children’ campaign which hopes to raise an additional £10m over the next 5 years to help meet the inevitable increase in need to support these cases going forward.
The current Government’s policy on domestic violence has no specific provision for children affected by domestic abuse, and there are currently no official statistics on the number of children who live with it. During this election we are calling for all parties to identify and prioritise the needs of these children in their manifestos. We hope the next Government will drive forward systemic change in how support services account for the needs of children”.
How we are responding to the rise in children affected by domestic abuse:
Over the last three years Buttle UK have been piloting an innovative new approach to supporting children affected by domestic abuse. We have been providing grants up to the value of £2000 that can be spent on a wide range of items and costs designed to:
- Help victims of domestic abuse to resettle after leaving an abusive relationship – making them less vulnerable to returning to an abusive relationship as they try to live independently for the first time. Here we have provided the families with essential household items required, establishing an independent, long-term and secure home.
- Specific funding targeted at children to help them overcome their experiences and settle into their new surroundings. This has included: tutoring lessons, homework clubs, uniforms, computers, educational toys, after school clubs, swimming lessons, football, drama clubs, karate lessons, play therapy and lastly counseling.
To date this initiative has awarded 470 grants to the value of £580,000. This project was supported with funding from the City of London Corporation’s charity, the City Bridge Trust and ran across all London Boroughs and the average grant awarded was £1240
An independent evaluation of the project has found that the grants offer:
A new beginning, that is more dignified than it would have been
Reduction in tension within the family: improving family functioning
Reduction in parental stress linked to household and financial management and an improvement in parenting capacity
Reduction in mother's isolation: improving support networks and resources she can draw on
Paying for extra tuition helps children to 'catch-up' and increase confidence. It helps to address missed school, school changes and disengagement due to trauma
Paying for after school activities help to improve children's behaviour at, and engagement with, school
Computers are now essential for secondary school children. Paying for these reduces the complicated arrangements and costs associated with not having a computer at home
Parents in this situation are more typically focused on the 'here and now' - grant helped to support successful post-crisis transition
For the support services: the grants helped to make services more child centred, by encouraging them to think about the children’s needs. They improved the relationship between referrer agency and client, due to the level of practical support provided.
Our 'Chances for Children Campaign' is set to raise an additional £10m to help thousands of children in crisis. Last year we awarded 10,000 grants reaching early 30,000 children and amounting to £3.9m. £2.25m was awarded to families on behalf of BBC Children in Need.