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Children and Young people

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LoveRespect Website Launched by Women's Aid. 

The Sefton Domestic Abuse Board would like to shine a light on the Love Respect Website launched by Women’s Aid. This website is designed for 14 to 25 year olds to discover what healthy relationships look like and how to spot the signs of abuse.

The Sefton Domestic Abuse Board share the view that love shouldn’t feel bad, and that everyone has the right to be safe and happy. The website will help young people figure our what they can do if they, or someone they know is in an unsafe relationship and support them to get help and advice.

Please encourage young people to visit the website LoveRespect - Is my relationship healthy?

Also this week, the Children’s Commissioner has published a report which has highlighted 92% of child victims of domestic abuse receive no support or advocacy. This has left thousands of child victims of domestic abuse forced to navigate complicated and often traumatic criminal justice processes alone, without being offered specialist support.

If you would like to read the full report

If you know a young person who requires advocacy please visit NYAS a leading national charity providing advocacy  to young people



Domestic abuse affects children and young people. We know that they are more aware of what’s happening than parents often think. How they respond depends on their age, personality, support network, but they recover best when they are helped to understand and to process what is happening or has happened to them. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 recognises children as victims of domestic abuse if they “see, hear or otherwise experience the effects of abuse”. 

Children and young people may:

  • feel confused, anxious, angry, afraid, isolated, ashamed, guilty.
  • risk injury by being caught in between parents.
  • be unable to concentrate and to achieve at school.
  • be used to threaten victims (to harm children or ‘have them taken into care’)
  • not have their own needs fully met by a parent who is struggling to cope with being abused.
  • be directly abused by the person who is harming the adult.
  • develop ways of coping that are harmful e.g. running away or using substances.
  • get into trouble because they are copying the behaviour they have witnessed.

Young people can be at risk in their teen relationships 

There is evidence that young people’s relationships can be just as harmful as adults. We want to do all we can to help those who are harmed and support those who are harming others to change. 

You can visit Your Best Friend | Safelives or Disrespect NoBody campaign for further information and resources

Domestic abuse is a safeguarding issue

Children living with domestic abuse need to be identified, protected and supported. Not all children need social worker involvement to be safe but if you are worried that a child is at serious risk you should contact:

  • Call Sefton Childrens Social Care Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) 0151 934 4481 or 0151 934 4013 Monday - Thursday 9.00am to 5.30pm, Friday - 9.00am to 4.00pm (excluding bank holidays)

  • Contact the emergency duty team on 0151 934 3555 for urgent advice outside of office hours (from 5.30pm Mon to Thurs, and 4pm Friday and weekends).
  • If you think a child is in immediate danger call for police assistance.

You may want to report a concern if you:

  • Are worried about the safety or wellbeing of a child
  • Suspect neglect or abuse
  • Would like to report an incident
  • Are a child or young person who needs support

We appreciate that making a referral to MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub) may be difficult for you. Please be reassured that your concerns will be recorded, and any response carefully considered.

Keeping children and young people safe is everyone's responsibility - families, carers, the public and professional staff in Children's Services and partner agencies.

Sefton Council has a legal duty to look into a child’s circumstances when somebody suspects abuse or neglect is occurring.

You should always report your concerns, even if the person you suspect is abusing or neglecting a child is your partner, or a member of your own family or someone you know well.

You can remain anonymous if you wish to.

Other options:

You can also discuss your concerns with someone who works with children and families, e.g. health visitor, school nurse, social worker or teacher or call our local domestic abuse support line who can provide further advice and help

You can also contact one of the following third-party agencies:


If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors for help, advice and support.


Call: 0808 800 5000


Childline offers free, confidential advice and support whatever your worry, whenever you need help.

Call: 0800 1111

Responding to children and young people where domestic abuse is identified

When children or young people disclose that they are living with domestic abuse it is very important to:

  • Reassure those who are harmed that it is not their fault.
  • Encourage them to express their fears and concerns so that they can be addressed.
  • Involve them in safety planning – dependent on age and ability.
  • Remember that the child/young person already has coping strategies on which to build.
  • Empower the non-abusing parent to keep their child safe.
  • Keep listening to children’s voices and views.

Operation Encompass

  • Our Police Force informs schools every day about incidents in homes the night before so that teachers and other staff can decide how best to support pupils who may not be in a good place to learn that day. 

Child arrangements (contact and residency) after separation

When parents separate it is usually considered in the child’s best interests to have some level of contact with the parent, even when that person is known to have harmed the child’s other parent.

This might be overseen by a third party or be unsupervised.  Children do often want this connection with their other parent but sometimes survivors of domestic abuse tell us that they feel this is not positive for their child and is used to continue to control or hurt. 

If you need help with child arrangements it is best to seek legal advice from a solicitor (see below).

More information:

If you are a parent concerned about the impact of contact on a child you should contact a Family Law solicitor. The Resolution website allows you to search for a solicitor who is accredited in domestic abuse.

Children behaving abusively

All children display anger, but when this becomes an ongoing pattern of physically assaulting parents and siblings, destroying property, and threatening further violence to create fear and control, it is recognised as child on parent abuse or adolescent on parent violence (COPVA).

COPVA is under-researched in the UK and there is no officially recorded data. However, evidence suggests that it is a significant and under reported problem.

COPVA poses significant challenges to parents as it reverses traditional familial relationships of power and control. In addition to living in fear of assault, parents who are abused by their children report feelings of shame and blame and are reluctant to report the problem out of a fear of the consequences for their child. There is a lack of knowledge and understanding surrounding COPVA and little official policy or guidance on the issue.

There is no one explanation for COPVA, it has been linked with domestic abuse in the family, behavioural problems and conduct disorders, mental health, learning disabilities and substance misuse (see Identifying & Understanding Child to Parent Abuse | Pegs Support ( In particular it is most common for adolescent boys to target abuse at single mothers.

Parents can often be reluctant to disclose abuse as they fear it may criminalise their child or reflect on their parenting and lead to their child being taken into Local Authority care. Parents can live with very high levels of fear leading to anxiety, depression, stress and shame. 56% of parents experiencing abuse from their children contacted their GP about the health problems caused.

Help and support for parents who are experiencing abuse from their children is available from our local domestic abuse support line.

Last Updated on Friday, April 26, 2024

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