A children’s charity has reported a ‘staggering growth’ in the number of young victims exposed to domestic abuse.
Buttle UK’s figures show the number of grants awarded to families affected by domestic abuse rose by 22% between 2015 and 2016.
Over £1m was awarded to those families affected by domestic abuse last year alone.
Buttle also said nearly 10,000 children who were referred to them last year had been affected by domestic abuse – out of these 3,384 children were aged four or under.
This represents an increase of 35% on the number of cases in this age group compared to the year before.
Looking at the reasons why families were referred to the charity during the last 5 years, 27% stated the primary or secondary reason for support was domestic abuse.
This equates to 15,483 of the 57,024 cases referred to Buttle UK during this time.
Of the children and young people supported by the charity’s grants over the last 5 years 35,380 out of 121,540 were affected by domestic abuse.
Buttle UK registered a 29% increase in the number of children in this category last year.
The types of abuse registered included physical, mental and sexual abuse.
‘Domestic abuse is an extensive and largely under-reported problem across the UK,’ said Gerri McAndrew, CEO of Buttle UK.
‘Support services often assume that a child’s needs can be met by addressing the needs of the abused parent.
‘The increase in referrals we have seen may be a result of better awareness of the issue in general, but we still believe that the specific issues that children face in these situations are not being identified and met.
‘We believe that this is the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that 20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse, but there has been very little published data in this area.
‘The high number of children affected by the issue is key to the rationale for our “Chances for Children” campaign which hopes to raise an additional £10m over the next 5 years to help meet the inevitable increase in need to support these cases going forward.’