DOMESTIC violence support workers are “concerned” about the number of children witnessing torment at home and falling into a “cycle of abuse”.
New figures have revealed almost 700 children under the age of five were present at domestic violence incidents in Hartlepool last year, as reported in yesterday’s Mail.
The figures, described as “shocking” by Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, also show that a total of 414 youngsters aged between six and 18 witnessed the abuse.
Danielle Chadwick, service manager at Harbour in Hartlepool, admitted she isn’t surprised by the figures.
But she said it now down to support workers and police to work with schools and colleges in the town to educate children and teenagers about the subject.
Danielle said: “The problem with children witnessing domestic violence at such a young age is it becomes a learned behaviour.
“The children then fall into a cycle of abuse.
“If they witness the abuse in their early years it sets them up for life in terms of their expectations of relationships.
“As they grow up they then become the perpetrators, it goes the full circle.”
Danielle added: “Unfortunately the figures didn’t come as a surprise to us.
“We are aware of the rising number of children and young people who witness abuse at home.
“That is why it is so important that all of the services work together with the schools and colleges in the town to educate the youngsters, to alter their expectations.”
The figures were released as part of a national In Focus week, putting the spotlight on the effects of domestic abuse and the services available to provide victims with support.
Harbour joined police in urging perpetrators to think about the effects of their behaviour on their children and encouraged victims to seek help and break free from damaging relationships.
To highlight the problem of domestic violence, Cleveland Police will be taking part in a national ‘tweetathon’ on March 6, sending a tweet every time they are sent to a domestic violence incident over a 24-hour period.
The tweets will not give specific location detail, but it is hoped the idea will raise awareness.
Follow @clevelandpolice for updates and information.
Victims of domestic violence can get help by calling Harbour on (01429) 277508.