Recent analysis of Buttle UK's grant-giving has shown a staggering growth in the number of young victims exposed to domestic abuse, with figures showing that the number of grants awarded to families affected by domestic abuse rose by 22% between 2015 and 2016.
Nearly 10,000 children who were referred to Buttle UK last year had been affected by domestic abuse; out of these, 3,384 children were aged 4 or under. This represents an increase of 35% on the number of cases in this age group compared to the year before.
Although Buttle UK's grant-giving was setup to support children and young people who are in financial hardship and are dealing with other serious social issues, domestic abuse is consistently becoming the primary reason across all of the nations as to why it gets referrals.
When Buttle UK analysed reasons as to why families were referred to them during the past 5 years, 27% stated the primary or secondary reason for support was domestic abuse. This equates to 15,483 of 57,024 cases referred to Buttle UK during this time.
Of the children and young people supported by our grants over the past 5 years, 35,380 out of 121,540 were affected by domestic abuse. We registered a 29% increase in the number of children in this category last year. The types of abuse registered included physical, mental and sexual abuse. In most cases, the children had witnessed the abuse taking place in the home, often on an ongoing basis. For many their behaviour had become either withdrawn or challenging as a result.
'Domestic abuse is an extensive and largely under-reported problem across the UK. Support services often assume that a child’s needs can be met by addressing the needs of the abused parent. The increase in referrals we have seen may be a result of better awareness of the issue in general, but we still believe that the specific issues that children face in these situations are not being identified and met.' Commenting on the figures, Gerri McAndrew, CEO of Buttle UK
Buttle UK believes that this is the tip of the iceberg.
It is estimated that 20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse, but there has been very little published data in this area. The high number of children affected by the issue is key to the rationale for Buttle UK's ‘Chances for Children
’ campaign, which hopes to raise an additional £10m over the next 5 years to help meet the inevitable increase in need to support these cases going forward.
The current Government’s policy on domestic violence has no specific provision for children affected by domestic abuse, and there are currently no official statistics on the number of children who live with it. During this election, Buttle UK is calling for all parties to identify and prioritise the needs of these children in their manifestos and it hopes the next Government will drive forward systemic change in how support services account for the needs of children.