For many children and young people experiencing domestic abuse, their early learning and childcare setting, school or youth work setting may be the only place they feel safe. Even in a remote learning or blended learning context, staff can still provide lifelines to these children and young people.
This resource outlines the nature of domestic abuse, the indicators and impact on children and young people, and how to respond to potential cases of domestic abuse. A guide, a summary page and a professional learning presentation are available.
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One in five children in the UK will have experienced domestic abuse by the time they reach 18. This means that all staff, including non-education staff, are in unique positions to support children and young people experiencing domestic abuse and ensure they are safeguarded.
As a result of the COVID-19 lockdown measures, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse are at increased levels of risk. They were recognised in Scottish Government guidance as a vulnerable group who may need to attend school in person during lockdown.
Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour that instils fear and is used by abusers to maintain control. Measures taken to address the pandemic, including lockdown, closure of schools, working from home and reductions in the work of courts, provide additional tools for abusers to exercise that control. This increases the risk to children and young people, removing opportunities for them to seek help and support both from their own networks and from specialist services.
Role of the adults in schools
- Education settings are often the only place children and young people experiencing domestic abuse can feel safe.
- A listening, trusted adult can make it easier for a child to disclose.
- Education practitioners can challenge gender-based violence by promoting an ethos and culture of equality throughout the curriculum and the whole school experience.
- Harmful norms and stereotypes need to be challenged and healthy, positive and supportive relationships need to be promoted.
- Awareness raising of domestic abuse with both staff and learners is important.
- To what extent do our staff have awareness of the range of behaviours and impacts related to domestic abuse?
- To what extent do our staff have clarity on possible indicators that a young person is experiencing domestic abuse?
- What approaches might help develop a whole school approach to preventing gender-based violence?
The Improvement Service, in partnership with COSLA, the Scottish Government, NHS Education for Scotland and the Safe & Together Institute, has published a companion document (September 2021) to support all professionals working with women, children and young people affected by domestic abuse and those working with perpetrators to strengthen awareness and understanding about trauma-informed and domestic abuse-informed practice. The document provides context, key messages and practice-focused reflective questions to support professionals to work in a trauma-informed way that recognises the nature, prevalence and impact of domestic abuse. The document aims to strengthen understanding of how taking a domestic abuse and trauma-informed approach can support improved outcomes for women, children and young people affected by domestic abuse and can support staff wellbeing and safety.
Domestic abuse Wakelet - This Wakelet signposts information and resources to raise awareness about domestic abuse, its potential impacts on children and young people and how practitioners can offer support.
The Rise Report - This 2022 Scottish report details the findings of a national research project that investigates young women’s experiences and understanding of unhealthy relationships, domestic abuse and access to support.
Speak Out Stay Safe is a session available to all primary schools in the UK. It aims to equip a generation of children with the knowledge and understanding they need to stay safe from abuse and neglect. Children are taught to speak out if they are worried.