Following the success of the Talk Toolkit for teenagers, Devon’s Safeguarding Team, lead by Team Leader Emma Stephens, has developed a new toolkit for primary aged children. The toolkit, which has been developed in consultation with seven local schools, will provide professionals working with primary age children with a resource to help them support those who have been affected by domestic abuse.
The launch, held on the 21st February at Newcourt Community Centre, was attended by the Lord Mayor of Exeter City, Councillor Cynthia Thompson, along with representatives from local schools and other organisations who work with children and young people, and included a keynote address by Dr Maxine Tostevin, Clinical Psychologist from Tides Psychological Service, and a talk by Jan Mead, Early Help Co-ordinator, on Devon’s Early Help system.
This innovative toolkit has been developed with £3679.67 of funding from an Exeter Board Community Grant. Since April 2016 Splitz Devon has worked with 214 high risk and 60 medium risk domestic abuse victims from the Exeter city area, who between them have 275 children, under the age of 16 years, 31% of whom were between five and 11 years.
Splitz’ Chairman, Francis Wakem QPM said:
"It is vitally important for young people to have the opportunity to talk about what they have seen or what may have happened to themselves. Keeping things to themselves will, in all probability, lead to confusion, anxiety and heightened fear. I am confident this important Primary Tool Kit will help to significantly change the lives of many children and young people; the Tool Kit is an excellent initiative by members of the Splitz Devon Team".
Councillor James McInnes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Education, said:
The impact of domestic abuse on children and their future development and relationships has long been a concern for professionals. Schools often see this reflected in the behaviour and achievement levels of children and young people.”
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:
“The effectiveness of early intervention has been well researched. Young people, even at primary age, who have experienced the trauma of domestic abuse are recognised to often engage in risk-taking, challenging behaviour, involvement in anti-social or low level criminal activities, which can escalate until they require more costly and intensive intervention, including specialist mental health support.”
A direct correlation between childhood experiences of domestic abuse and poor mental health and the experience of domestic abuse as an adult, as either a perpetrator or victim, has been recognised in many studies including ‘Talking to My Mum’, (Humphreys et al, 2006 Warwick University).