Four million UK families in 'regular conflict'

Boy Regular conflict can have lasting effects on children

Four million families in the UK experience regular conflict and violence in the home, a report for a charity suggests.

Verbal abuse, arguments over money and disputes between parents and their children create a worrying picture of family life, the 4Children report says.

A survey of 1,018 families with children suggests 53% experience serious conflict on a regular basis.

It also suggests an increase in child-on-parent violence.

The report, The Enemy Within, suggests family violence is more widespread than was previously thought.

And financial worries appear to be a significant factor, with a fifth of families having serious or frequent conflicts over money.

Teenage strife

Many families (17% of those surveyed) disagree over how to discipline their children and the same proportion fall into conflict over sibling rivalry between children.

A further fifth of families say they have frequent or serious arguments with teenage children.

It also sheds light on what form the conflicts take.

Four in 10 said family conflicts involved making another person feel stupid, while just under a fifth (18%) said physical fighting without injuries happened occasionally in such situations.

Some 17% said intimidating behaviour happened occasionally.

The report also looks at the implications of family violence for children.

Start Quote

Conflict need not turn to violence if families get the help they need”

End Quote Anne Longfield Chief executive of 4Children

It says: "While hundreds of thousands of children grow up suffering from the emotional and psychological damage of experiencing or witnessing family violence.

"The latest scientific research shows clearly that children exposed to a family atmosphere of domestic violence are just as adversely affected in terms of their brain development as children who are directly subject to physical violence."

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, said that while domestic violence between a couple was often highlighted, family violence can be hidden from view.

She said: "Conflict need not turn to violence if families get the help they need. Violence within the family threatens lives, breaks up families and has severe ongoing psychological and physical effects on hundreds of thousands of parents and children every year.

"Even more worryingly, children who face or witness family violence in the home are significantly more likely to commit other crimes in later life.

"Up to 79% of those identified as the most troubled families in some authorities are living with domestic violence and, in some areas, three-quarters of children on child protection orders are on the registers because of concerns over domestic violence in the family."

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