Damaging impact of witnessing domestic violence revealed

Figures released by the NSPCC highlight the long-term impact of domestic violence on children.

Children who witness family violence four times as likely to carry weapon (Pic: Rex Features)

Children who witness domestic violence are four times more likely to turn violent themselves, according to research by the NSPCC.

They are also four times more likely to carry a weapon, three times more likely to take drugs, steal or bully and twice as likely to be excluded from school than children from non-violent homes.

The findings, based on a survey of more than 6,000 children, young people and carers, highlight the impact of domestic violence on children.

Even five to 10 year-olds from violent or abusive homes are two to four times more likely to attack or bully other children, the research revealed.

The survey also found that children who grow up in violent homes are five times as likely to run away from home than their peers.

The charity is now calling on children’s services and adults’ services to work more closely when violence in the home is reported. This would ensure the needs of the whole family are met.

NSPCC chief Andrew Flanagan said the research shows that the damaging impact of family violence on children’s behaviour is “immense”.

“It shows a clear link between witnessing family violence at a young age and serious behavioural problems in later life. This is something we have always known but these figures give us strong new evidence of a correlation.

“So we welcome the government’s focus on early intervention and also their attempts to tackle ‘troubled families’. But by the time a child is in their early teens the damage can already be done and behaviour can spiral out of control.

“We must intervene early in families where violence occurs and, crucially, we must provide opportunities for therapy for children who have been harmed by this abuse,” he said.

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