Teachers trained to spot domestic abuse as referrals expected to soar when children return to school

Domestic abuse referrals are expected to soar next month as some children head back to school for the first time since March.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 4:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 9:14 pm

A ‘back to school’ surge in referrals has been predicted by local domestic abuse support services across the North East.

Organisations that support families that have experience domestic abuse expect that when the school gates reopen next week, there will be a heavy increase in the number of young people needing help to cope and recover from experiences at home.

Teachers, who are trained to spot the signs of abuse, have been praised by victim services for finding ways to speak to families of concern.

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Kim McGuinness with the team at Acorns - a North Tyneside organisation that supports families who have experienced abuse

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There was a ‘worryingly low’ number of referrals during the peak of the lockdown and many victim services are now reporting a sharp increase as the easing of lockdown allows more people to reach out for help.

Although referrals are on the up, there are still many children at home suffering in silence, ‘and it’s these children we have to shine the light on and rescue’ says Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness.

She said: “Schools provide so much more than an education for our children. Walking through the school gates can be like entering a place of sanctuary for some. It’s these children who have had the longest, toughest summers and seeing the friendly, familiar face of a teacher may lead them to open up about their experiences at home.

“There will also be those who aren’t ready to talk but fortunately, through initiatives like ‘Operation Encompass; The Next Steps’, which I fund through my Violence Reduction Unit, we have many teachers in our region who are trained to spot the signs so they can help.

“In fact, many of the services I’ve spoken to have praised their education colleagues for their continued efforts in finding ways to get out and speak to families of concern, even while schools are closed. Some teachers have played a really valuable part in keeping strong links to support going, and to them we are very grateful.”

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