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Victims’ Commissioner publishes new report on domestic abuse

Report explores overlap between children’s experience of domestic abuse and their offending behaviour

The Victims' Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, has published a report – Sowing the Seeds: Children's experience of domestic abuse and criminality – exploring the overlap between children's experience of domestic abuse and children's offending behaviour. The report makes recommendations for early intervention and consistent practice.

The Commissioner notes that the review is published in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown which presents an unprecedented risk for victims of domestic abuse, who are compelled to stay within a home shared with an abusive partner.

The findings of the report suggest this should not be regarded as a short-term problem: "Children who are exposed to domestic abuse are not casual bystanders and the evidence suggests impacts will be huge and far reaching."

Dame Vera Baird says:

"My review finds there is an overlap between children's experience of domestic abuse and children's offending behaviour. A quarter of children who were identified as having socially unacceptable behaviour also have identified concerns about domestic abuse of a parent or carer. Practitioners who support children out of gang related activity tell us the children and young people they work with commonly come from backgrounds of domestic abuse."

The review finds children who experience domestic abuse may seek alternative relationships outside of the home, leaving them vulnerable to sexual and criminal exploitation. Children in alternative school provision, those in unregulated care homes and children sent far from home are also particularly vulnerable.

According to the review, early intervention to identify and support children and young people who experience domestic abuse is crucial.

Dame Vera Baird adds:

"I hope that instead of sowing the seeds of violence, we can sow the seeds for a brighter future for our children and young people."

The Children's Society, responding to the report, said:

"In the long term it's vital the Government invests in local early intervention services to end the current postcode lottery and ensure that children are identified and supported as early as possible.  A national strategy is needed to tackle child criminal exploitation and define it in law."

For the report, click here. For The Children's Society's full response, click here.