Children who live with difficult issues such as domestic
violence and parental substance misuse do not know where to go to
get formal help, according to a report by the Joseph Rowntree
It finds that children are unlikely to seek the help of
professionals straight away, and that even when they do, many have
a negative experience.
They are often afraid that professionals will not believe them
and say that language is used that they cannot understand. They are
not always confident that involving professionals will make things
better and often think that things could actually be made
The literature review found that some children will not talk to
anyone about their difficulties at home, and that boys were more
likely to leave talking to someone until they neared crisis
Many children coped by using avoidance and distraction
strategies, which made identifying them even harder. The report
suggested that a good idea would be to make sure children could
access a male or female helper.
Informal support was used the most, with children most likely to
talk to their parents and friends, and then siblings, grandparents
or even their pets.
Children desperately wanted information that was appropriate for
their age to help them understand their parents’ problems.
The research identified a need for confidential helplines as well
as specialist services. Opportunities to get away from home and to
get to know other children in the same boat were also said to be
Understanding what children say: Children’s experiences of
domestic violence, parental substance misuse and parental health
problems from www.jrf.org.uk