Children and young people - domestic abuse

Domestic abuse affects children and young people. We know that they are more aware of what’s happening than parents often think. How they respond depends on their age, personality, support network, but they recover best when they are helped to understand and to process what is happening or has happened to them.

Children and young people may:

  • feel confused, anxious, angry, afraid, isolated, ashamed, guilty
  • risk injury by being caught in between parents
  • be unable to concentrate and to achieve at school
  • be used to threaten victims (to harm children or ‘have them taken into care’)
  • not have their own needs fully met by a parent who is struggling to cope with being abused
  • be directly abused by the person who is harming the adult
  • develop ways of coping that are harmful e.g. running away or using substances
  • get into trouble because they are copying the behaviour they have witnessed 

Young people can be at risk in their teen relationships

There is evidence that young people’s relationships can be just as harmful as adults. We want to do all we can to help those who are harmed and support those who are harming others to change. 

Domestic abuse is a safeguarding issue

The Domestic Abuse Partnership and the LSCB have jointly produced a policy to guide our work to help children and young people. The policy contains a Children’s Risk and Needs Tool which should be completed when you know a child or young person is living in a household where there is domestic abuse. All tools are available on the Tools and Resources page. 

Children living with domestic abuse need to be identified, protected and supported. Not all children need social worker involvement to be safe but if you are worried that a child is at serious risk you should contact:

  • Cheshire East Consultation Service - 0300 123 5012
  • out of hours - 0300 123 5022

You must contact this team if there is a child aged 1 or under in a family where domestic abuse is happening.

Responding to children and young people where domestic abuse is identified

When children or young people disclose that they are living with domestic abuse it is very important to:

  • reassure those who are harmed that it is not their fault
  • encourage them to express their fears and concerns so that they can be addressed
  • involve them in safety planning – dependent on age and ability
  • remember that the child/young person already has coping strategies on which to build
  • empower the non-abusing parent to keep their child safe
  • keep listening to children’s voices and views

Specialist services in Cheshire East

  • Work directly with children and young people – one to one work, change and recovery programmes and peer support delivered by our partners Barnardo’s and Cheshire Without Abuse – you can access this support via Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Hub (0300 123 5101)
  • Work with schools - The Safeguarding Children in Education Settings (SCIES) Team supports schools, colleges and early years settings to promote positive relationships as part of the PSHCE curriculum. They also train and advise schools on how to respond when pupils may be at risk.  Find out more by reading the SCiES One Minute Guide (PDF, 347KB)
  • Are involved with Operation Encompass – our Police Force informs schools every day about incidents in homes the night before so that teachers and other staff can decide how best to support pupils who may not be in a good place to learn that day 

Contact with abusive parents

One serious issue impacting the wellbeing of children is that of contact with abusive parents post separation/divorce. Courts start from the presumption that contact with the non resident parent is in the best interests of the child and so most children are required to have some kind of contact. This must be managed safely.

More information:

If you are a parent concerned about the impact of contact on a child you should contact a Family Law solicitor. The Resolution website allows you to search for a solicitor who is accredited in domestic abuse.

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