Westgate: Tragic Children Caught in Crossfire of Domestic Violence

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Byline: JOANNE ATKINSON

STRONG links exist between domestic abuse and child abuse deaths or injury.

AnNSPCC report recently showed eight out of 10 young people who suffered serious physical abuse came from a home plagued by domestic violence - in half of these cases the traumatic clashes between parents were described as frequent or sometimes constant. But domestic violence is often a hidden crime which can go undetected for years. In extreme cases the extent of the damage may only come to light when a child is caught in the crossfire and seriously hurt or killed. The Domestic Violence Prevention Service (DVPS) addresses child protection issues within the context of domestic vi-olence by working: # Locally as a service provider working with children, women and men; # Strategically as an advocate of change in multi-agency practice; # Culturally, through awareness raising with professional networks, communities, and in schools; # Nationally as a reference point for key policy decision makers. In Wales, these objectives are being met by providing services to children, women and men via multi agency strategies.

Services are directly provided to children through groupwork and individual consultation, in partnership with Women's Aid and social services departments.

The NSPCC Cymru's DVPS has an excellent track record in maintaining a child protection focus in the area of domestic violence, while working with adults to bring about change.

It works directly with those impacted upon by domestic violence and strategically with those who work to end domestic violence. Greta Thomas, director NSPCC Cymru/ Wales said, ``Every week one to two children die in the UK at the hands of their parents or carers. ``In 2001, 78 children were killed by parents/carers. These children were killed

in their homes, places that we all like to think of as safe and secure.

``They were killed by people that they knew and should have been able to trust. ``The link between domestic violence and child protection is a clear one, and violence in the home is a reality for many children in Wales. This violence does lead to children being hurt and even killed.

``If children are listened to and pro-tected, mothers supported and perpetrators of domestic violence managed effectively then we can make a difference.''

She said the charity was working towards tackling the problem.

``The NSPCC in Wales listens to children via the helpline and helps protect children and families through its Domestic Violence Prevention Service making a real difference to the lives.

``The work with children, mothers and perpetrators within the Domestic Violence Prevention Service is integrated into an effective programme keeping children safe.''

Services to women are mainly through groupwork, and for men, there is a series of quarterly groupwork programmes, and monthly follow-up meetings. The programmes are focused on the men addressing and taking responsibility for their actions.

Training has been provided to a wide range of professional and lay audiences including area child protection committees, social services, probation, health and the police.

The DVPS is also involved in multi-forum initiatives such as the South Wales Domestic Violence Forum and the Pan Gwent Domestic Violence Forum. …