Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

PRESS RELEASE: Domestic abuse. Children can learn by example.



\’Children can learn by example\’ – that\’s the message of Northumbria Police and Vera Baird\’s campaign tackling domestic violence over the festive period.Launched on Thursday 27th November, the forcewide initiative asks those involved in a domestically abusive relationship, whether as the victim or the perpetrator, to think about the affect their behaviour is having on children living under the same roof. It\’s being supported by Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria.

Regardless of whether the child has been physically abused, witnessing violent behaviour in their home by seeing it, hearing it or just noticing signs of injury, will have a profound affect on them.

Domestic abuse is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Mrs Baird, who made domestic and sexual abuse a priority of her police and crime plan and with her fellow north east Commissioners launched the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy in 2013, said: “It is well known that the victims of domestic abuse are not just those who bear the brunt of the assaults and abuse but the children who witness these events on a daily basis.

“Sadly these youngsters can also be the target for this violence meaning that the impact of this behaviour has a far reaching and long-lasting impact which is often perpetuated through generations.

“Domestic abuse is a terrible legacy for families and we must protect the victims and any children to ensure this crime is tackled.

“One important area where this can be implemented is through education. This is by taking the key messages into schools, youth clubs and colleges, and talking with teachers and youth leaders about the effects of domestic violence and how the different strands of awareness can be best communicated to young people, as they look at the areas of healthy relationships.

“People must not stay quiet and think it is their fault – this is never the case and there are people working in various organisations who can help victims to safety and the assistance they need.

“And while this is a Christmas campaign, it is not a crime which is just limited to the festive season. Domestic abuse happens every hour of every day of every year and we must ensure this crime is never forgotten.”

Temporary Detective Superintendent Lisa Orchard said: \”Children can \’witness\’ domestic abuse in many ways.

\”They don\’t have to see this first hand. They may be in another room and hear everything that\’s happening. They may see the aftermath of a violent episode such as injuries to their parents or guardians or breakages in the house.

\”However it\’s witnessed, it can still go on to have a detrimental impact on a child\’s own behaviour.

\”They may become withdrawn, anxious or depressed; have problems with school or even go on to display aggression themselves.

\”While we completely understand the trauma faced by victims of domestic violence, we\’re urging them to think about how this is also  traumatic for any children involved and can affect the rest of their lives. They can stop this cycle of abuse by reporting it to police or speaking to a support agency.

\”The same message goes to those who commit acts of domestic violence who should seek help to alter their behaviour.\”

Anyone suffering abuse can call 0800 066 5555 for independent and confidential advice.

To change abusive behaviour, call Respect on 0808 802 4040.

In an emergency, call 999 or to speak to your local Neighbourhood Policing Team call 101, extension 69191.