Matt Forde: Abuse a constant concern

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WE published new figures this week showing that children who witness violence at home are far more likely to carry a weapon, seriously hurt others, take drugs, run away from home or be excluded from school.

We already knew that children who witness domestic abuse suffer, but these statistics paint a vivid picture of just how immense that suffering is, and of the ongoing costs to society.

Children may act out the emotional pain of living with violence by causing harm to themselves or others. More than half of secondary school-aged children affected by domestic abuse are engaging in at least three kinds of serious disruptive behaviours.

This isn’t a small problem. More than 100,000 children in Scotland are estimated to be affected by domestic abuse. We can be proud of the way Scotland has focused on supporting children and parents who suffer from domestic abuse in recent years. But as budgets get pinched our figures show that cutting early identification and intervention services would be a false economy.

Reaching children before they begin to act out their trauma is the only way to break the downward spiral of violence and give Scotland’s next generation a safer and happier future.

Children affected by domestic abuse can contact ChildLine on 0800 11 11 or visit www.childline.org.uk. The NSPCC also provides help and advice for adults who are concerned about a child. Call 0808 800 5000, e-mail help@nspcc.org.uk or text 88858.

• Matt Forde is head of NSPCC services for children and families in Scotland