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Domestic abuse is major factor for children in need

Domestic violence was the biggest concern for children referred to social services, DfE figures reveal

Published on 15th November 2016

Children in need were referred to social services due to concerns around domestic violence in the overwhelming majority of cases in March this year, according to official statistics.

Department for Education figures revealed that domestic violence was the biggest concern for children referred to social services, closely followed by mental health problems.

“Domestic violence, which includes that aimed at children or other adults in the household, was the most common factor identified at the end of assessment for children in need at 31st March 2016,” said the DfE report.

“This year 49.6% of children in need at 31st March had domestic violence as a factor identified at end of assessment, followed by mental health at 36.6%, which incorporates the mental health of the child or other adults in the family/household,” the report added.

‘Other factors’ were the third most common factor identified at the end of assessment followed by drug misuse (19.3%), emotional abuse (19.3%), alcohol misuse (18.4%), neglect (17.5%) and physical abuse (14%).

The figures also showed that 6.4 per cent were identified for child abuse, 4.3% for self-harm, 3.9% for Child Sexual Exploitation, 2.7% for going missing and 1.2% for gangs.  
                                                                                      
Factors identified at the end of assessment are in addition to the primary need identified at assessment and were collected and reported for the first time two years ago.

Abuse or neglect was the most common primary need at assessment for children in need at 31st March 2016. This year 50.6% of children in need at 31st March had abuse or neglect as their primary need identified at assessment, followed by family dysfunction with 17.4%, and child’s disability or illness at 9.6%.

The number of children in need at 31st March has increased this year, from 391,000 in 2015 to 394,400 in 2016, an increase of 0.9%. According to the statistics, the number of children in need has remained relatively stable over the last seven years. At its lowest, this was 369,400 in 2012, and at its highest, this was 397,600 in 2014.

Similarly, the rate of children in need at 31st March per 10,000 children aged under 18 years in the population has also remained relatively stable over the last seven years. At its lowest, this was 325.7 in 2012, and at its highest, this was 345.6 in 2014.

The largest age group is those aged 10 - 15 years accounting for 30.6% of children in need; 23.6% are under 5 years of age.

However, the number of children who were the subject of a child protection plan at 31st March continues to follow the upward trend of recent years. The figures showed that the number of children subject to a child protection plan in March was 50,310 in 2016, an increase of 1.2% on March 2015 when the figure was 49,700.

The number of referrals in the year ending 31st March has decreased this year, from 635,600 in 2015 to 621,470 in 2016, a decrease of 2.2%. This is the second year running there has been a decrease in the number of referrals in the year ending 31st March, following a larger than usual increase in 2014.

Most referrals are from the police and in 2015-2016, 27.6% of referrals were from the police, followed by schools with 16.7%, and health services with 14.3% of referrals.

The number of children who were subject to section 47 enquiries starting in the year has increased, from 160,200 in 2015 to 172,290 in 2016, an increase of 7.6%. There was also an increase in the number of children who were the subject of an initial stage child protection conference which took place in the year, from 71,400 in 2015 to 73,050 in 2016, an increase of 2.3%.

The NSPCC said that there has been a sharp rise in the number of adults worried about children suffering or witnessing physical violence and emotional abuse in their own home. Figures from the charity reveal:

    • a 75% increase in the last 5 years of adults concerned about domestic abuse, with 10 a day now getting in touch

    • 83% of contacts to our helpline last year were so serious that counsellors referred them onto external agencies such as the police or social services

    • more than half of these children we referred were under the age of 6.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “Home should be a haven for children where they feel safe and loved and encouraged to dream big.

“It is vital that we don't allow children suffering by living in a home plagued by domestic abuse to remain in the shadows,” he added.

More information about domestic abuse on NSPCC website

 

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