Dales schools must look out for the tell tale signs of domestic violence

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A child protection charity is encouraging schools in the Dales to be vigilant in looking out for pupils experiencing domestic violence, as new figures show that children who witness family violence while growing up are twice as likely to be excluded from school.

Research by the NSPCC shows that children who have witnessed violence between their parents or other family members are:

· three times as likely to take drugs, steal, spray graffiti or bully others than their peers

· twice as likely to get drunk, smoke or get into fights than their peers

· five times more likely to run away from home as their peers

· four times as likely to carry a weapon, such as a knife, or hurt someone badly than their peers

Simply witnessing violence can cause trauma and distress to children that is so severe it can have a massive impact on their well-being and ultimately their behaviour.

Fiona Richards, head of NSPCC services in the East Midlands, said: “According to the latest yearly Department of Education figures, 140 children in Derbyshire and 30 in Derby were permanently excluded from school. Across the two areas 3,330 children were suspended one or more times. Some of them will be experiencing domestic violence at home. Whilst this is not a determining factor, and does not in any way provide an excuse for poor behaviour, our research shows strong new evidence of a correlation.”

The NSPCC research shows over half (56 per cent) of children from violent homes show three or more of these kinds of disruptive behaviours whilst at secondary school, but the evidence of family violence is also visible at primary school.

Five to ten year olds from violent or abusive homes are two to four times more likely to hit, slap or push other children; pick on others; or break, damage or destroy someone else’s belongings.

Help and advice is available from the charity by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing help@nspcc.org.uk or texting 88858.