Better support for child witnesses of domestic violence

Child witnesses of domestic violence are being given inadequate support, or in some cases none at all, the BBC reports today.

It tells the story of a mother-of-two in Essex who fled her abusive husband after years of violence. She told BBC Inside Out that witnessing this violence had a profound impact on her seven-year-old son.

Despite group services being offered to her 11-year-old daughter, the mother says for her son "there was absolutely nothing" due to his age.

The programme reports that in the health service area where the family lived at the time, the boy had to be nine years old or exhibiting severe psychological symptoms to receive any support.

Carey Oppenheim, chief executive of the Early Intervention Foundation which has published its evidence on early intervention in domestic violence and abuse, said: "The consequences for children are very disruptive and many of the services are not actually there or are very patchy."

The BBC reports that the Foundation's research shows that one in four children will witness domestic violence by the age of 18, however it says there are no national rules stating what services children who witness violence at home should receive.

Earlier this year the Government announced a new taskforce to support its £54 million investment in improving children's services.