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Vulnerable young 'need more help'

3 December 08 06:55 GMT

Children and young people affected by violence at home are not getting enough help, according to a new report.

An inquiry by the Welsh Assembly into domestic abuse highlighted concerns about support available to children and uncertainty about funding.

Children's charity NSPCC Cymru Wales has urged ministers to look at domestic violence from a child's point of view.

The assembly government promised to respond in detail to the report's recommendations in the new year.

In compiling the report, titled Domestic Abuse in Wales, the communities and culture committee received evidence from a cross-section of people and organisations and from the assembly government itself.

Committee members were given unprecedented access to refuges to seek the views of survivors of domestic abuse.

The report highlighted the affects abuse in the home can have on children and communities.

It was also critical of a lack of long term funding for support services and patchy provision across Wales.

The report said it was crucial that counselling is provided for young people, and raised specific concerns that teenage boys should be able to stay with their mothers in refuges should they have to leave the family home.

Committee chair Janice Gregory, AM, said the wide scope of the committee's inquiry had allowed it to explore the strengths and weaknesses of how domestic abuse is managed in Wales.

She said: "We have covered many aspects of domestic abuse, including the impact of isolation exacerbated by geographical, cultural and individual factors."

'Excellent examples'

She said there were gaps in service provision for many groups of people.

"We all need to play our part in 'breaking the secret' of domestic abuse and changing attitudes," she said.

"Crisis intervention and awareness raising must always be swift, responsive and appropriate to the needs of victims, and we must do all we can to prevent today's children from becoming tomorrow's adult victims, and to break any cycle of abuse."

Responding to the report, NSPCC Cymru Wales called on more than 5,000 of its campaigners across Wales to petition the assembly government for more help for children living with domestic violence.

The children's charity wants to see adequate support services for children and families affected, training for professionals to identify children living with domestic violence and age appropriate education about domestic violence in schools and other youth settings.

NSPCC Cymru Wales policy and public affairs manager Simon Jones said: "Domestic abuse is still a hidden and secretive crime so for all the children that do find the courage to speak up, there will be many more who are suffering in silence.

"We need to ensure that children are empowered to seek help and that when they do, there are adequate services out there to support them."

An assembly government spokesman said: "We have not yet had a chance to consider the report but will be responding in detail on the recommendations in the New Year.

"However, the Welsh Assembly Government takes the issue of domestic abuse very seriously indeed and has had a National Domestic Abuse Strategy in place since 2005; it works closely with a range of partners to take forward the strategy. "

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