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The effects on children and young people

Children and young people who live with domestic abuse can be at risk of behavioural problems, emotional and physical trauma, which could have long lasting effects.

What you may observe if a child or young person is living with domestic abuse

Pre-School Children (0-4)

  • Have an anxious attachment with primary care giver
  • Show emotional distress
  • Be in a constant state of anxiety
  • Might not go to adults for help
  • Seem distracted and struggle to concentrate
  • Display emotional and angry behaviour
  • Have poor nursery attendance
  • Have problems socialising with other children
  • Cry excessively
  • Have speech delay
  • Be regressive in their behaviours
  • Be soiling
  • Blaming themselves for the home situation
  • Be withdrawn
  • Be over tired and not sleeping

School aged children (5-16)

  • Be engaging in risk-taking behaviours
  • Be withdrawn
  • Have increased impulsive & aggressive behaviours
  • Be exhausted and having sleep difficulties
  • Be experiencing sadness, depression and mood swings
  • Have a decline in school performance
  • Have high non-attendance
  • Not be doing their homework
  • Have problems with concentration & attention
  • Be anxious to leave a parent at home
  • Being bullied or bullying
  • Have low self esteem and therefore the risk associated with this (self harm, substance misuse etc.)
  • Have no hopes or ambitions
  • Be isolated; not many friends
  • Be throwing themselves into school work as an escape from home life
  • Not be allowed to attend clubs or local groups
  • Be unable to have school friends visit them at home
  • Have limited money for food/schools items

Many young people may also display behaviours that cause concern fromĀ abuse occurring within their own intimate relationships.

The warning signs of domestic abuse are varied depending on the child or young person and the situation. Not all children and young people will display challenging behaviour and it is important for them not to be labelled if they do.

Some of the behaviours listed may be signs of other issues but it is important to always be aware of the possibility of domestic abuse. The behaviours listed are not an exhaustive list and you may therefore observe other behaviours which cause concern.

Professionals working with children and young people are crucial in identifying those experiencing domestic abuse. They are the people who have regular contact and established relationships with children and young people and can therefore identify even subtle personality or behavioural changes.