Wales

Children in Wales 'hidden victims' of domestic abuse

Depressed girl (posed by model)
Image caption In up to 90% of cases, children are in the same or next room when the violence against their parent occurs

More than 1,000 children stayed in women's refuges in Wales last year, the country's first national domestic violence conference is to hear.

Welsh Women's Aid is hosting the event at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday to raise awareness about the hidden victims of violence in the home.

The aim is to better tailor services to children who have witnessed abuse.

Speakers include Children's Commissioner for Wales Keith Towler and Jane Davidson AM.

Department of Health statistics show domestic abuse affects 750,000 children across the UK in a year and that up to 66% of children living in households with domestic abuse suffer violence themselves.

In up to 90% of cases, children are in the same or next room when the violence against their parent occurs.

In 2008-09, Welsh Women's Aid supported 2,500 children affected by domestic abuse in Wales.

Impact

Paula Hardy, chief executive for Welsh Women's Aid, said: "Half the residents in Women's Aid refuges in Wales are children and we hope that through this conference awareness is raised around the services that they should be entitled to."

Mr Towler will address delegates from the police force, social services and a range of organisations who help victims of domestic abuse.

He will speak about the impact on children caught up in domestic violence and what legislation there is to protect them.

He will also explain what support is on offer via training for teachers and other staff in schools, awareness raising and peer education.

'Devastating impact'

Also speaking will be prominent barrister David Spice, who is vice-chair of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Cheryl Martin works for the charity's children's services arm, Children Matter.

She said: "Too often children are the silent, hidden victims of domestic abuse.

"They can be badly affected by domestic abuse in the home and the impact on their development, education, health and social skills can be devastating.

"Welsh Women's Aid and Women's Aid groups across Wales work to minimise the impact that domestic abuse has on the lives of women and their children, working with children living in refuges and a larger number living in local communities."

The theme of the conference will centre on four aspects: protection, prevention, provision and participation.

Anyone experiencing domestic abuse is asked contact the free and confidential Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 80 10 800.

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