Women’s aid appeal: Kids must be heard on abuse

The views of kids in domestic abuse cases are not always taken into account. Picture: Colin Hattersley

The views of kids in domestic abuse cases are not always taken into account. Picture: Colin Hattersley

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CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed calls for better training to help children across the Lothians caught up in court disputes linked to domestic abuse.

New research has shown more than half of children whose parents go to court in disputes over contact and where domestic abuse allegations exist do not want any contact with their non-resident parent.

The findings, which revealed 55 per cent of kids did not want to see their other parent for reasons including being hit, shouted at or feeling frightened, have been published by Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Recommendations to improve the methods used to take down children’s views in such cases have been backed across the Capital. Edinburgh Women’s Aid said much more needed to be done to help
out particularly young children.
Charity manager Michele Corcoran said contact for the child was often not positive when there was abuse in their relationship with a parent.

She said: “The views of the child are not always taken into account. We would welcome moves to improve the training for child reporters. I think it’s also really important that court reporters do have training on domestic abuse.”

The Evening News is supporting Edinburgh Women’s Aid through our annual Christmas fundraising appeal.

The charity provides services such as a shared refuge for women, children and young people escaping violence and abuse.

Every year about 5500 women in Edinburgh report domestic abuse to police. There were 10,703 incidents reported in the Lothian and Borders area in 2012-13.

The latest research, compiled by Dr Kirsteen Mackay, was based on the views of 155 children taken from 97 cases.

Other report recommendations included setting up a specialist service for very young children and improving the training of people who recorded kids’ views in domestic abuse cases.

Commissioner Tam Baillie said: “While it is encouraging that the courts in Scotland do make efforts to gather the views of children in court disputes over contact, the majority of children in the cases examined in this report are very young – half aged six years or younger. They are therefore particularly vulnerable and require sensitive questioning to gauge their perspective.”

A city council spokesman said: “The council has recently introduced training for staff in understanding the risks in contact when there is domestic abuse and a number of workers have been trained in how to gauge children’s views about contact.”

• You can support our Christmas fundraising appeal by sending cheques to EWA, 4 Cheyne Street, Edinburgh, EH4 1JB, or alternatively you can donate online at www.justgiving.com/edinburghwomensaid/donate

See Also:

Evening News Christmas appeal for Edinburgh Women’s Aid

Comment: Abuse victims come from all walks of life

Staff often see scars beyond the physical abuse

Gina Davidson: Abuse myths have to stop

Women’s Aid: Police chief vows abuse top priority

How you can help

FORTY years ago Edinburgh Women’s Aid was launched to help women and their children experiencing domestic abuse leave their homes and get help and support. Still today one in four women will experience some form of domestic abuse. To help EWA help them please donate this Christmas – as little as £5 can be put to good use.

Cheques should be sent to EWA, 4 Cheyne Street, Edinburgh, EH4 1JB or donate online at www.justgiving.com/edinburghwomensaid/donate

What can your donations do?

£5 provides duvet covers for a woman or child/young person

£10 provides a duvet for a woman or child/young person

£50 gives children/young people an outing to the cinema/ten-pin bowling/zoo

£1000 gives 12 weeks (5 hours per week) awareness raising/prevention work in schools

£15 covers fuel/lighting costs for a week’s refuge space

£20 provides 45 minutes of one-to-one support for a woman or child/young person

£25 provides 60 minutes of one-to-one support in the community

£25,000 provides an additional advocacy worker for 35 hours per week

£100 buys new locks to keep someone safe in their home

£15,000 provides an additional support worker to women or children and young people for one year (21 hours per week)

£5000 funds a parenting course to increase parenting skills and build for the future

£2500 enables a lifestyle management course to build confidence and self-esteem