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Schools informed of domestic violence

Posted onPosted on 4th Oct

A new initiative has been launched that will inform schools when a child has witnessed domestic violence.

Encompass Nottinghamshire will bridge the gap in communication between police and schools when a child has been in a home where an incident of domestic violence has taken place. Approximately between 6,800 and 8,200 children in Nottinghamshire witnessed a domestic abuse incident in 2012/13

The initiative is being trialled in schools in the Newark and Sherwood and Rushcliffe areas and it is hoped that it will be rolled out county wide by January 2015.

The process will be undertaken by the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) where up to 60 cases a day will be filtered. The process involves:
•A police sergeant who manages the Domestic Abuse Support Unit filtering and grading incidents
•The cases will be discussed and shared by social workers and an education advisor
•The education adviser, previously a head teacher, with the help of MASH officers will phone the school to brief them about the incident

Children’s centres and health visitors will also be informed about incidents.

Education Adviser Moira Cordon said: “This is a vital support mechanism for children up to the age of 18 who may be witnessing domestic violence on a regular basis.

“Children arrive at school distressed and angry and teachers often do not know why so the information provided by MASH will fill the gap and help adults understand what they are they are seeing and offer children the right emotional support.”

Moira added that many children needed a safe classroom environment and a trusted adult to help them when they are struggling after a domestic violence incident, whereas others need a more complex, specialist support.

“This whole project is child focussed, supporting the most vulnerable children faster, and better.”

Donna Chambers, Head teacher at Greasley Beauvale Primary School, is a passionate supporter of Encompass Nottinghamshire.

She said: “I was seconded to the MASH for 9 months so I know first-hand what a vital role its play in keeping children safe.

“This new initiative will provide the important link between the police and schools and will help teachers and other key professionals to better understand the root causes of a child’s emotional development and behaviour, for example absenteeism, ill health, anti-social behaviour and substance misuse. It will help us respond to some of the warning signs when a child has witnessed domestic abuse.”

The initiative was also welcomed by Nottinghamshire County Council’s committee chairman for Children and Young People’s Services Coun John Peck.

Coun Peck added: “This initiative will provide support for children when they need it most.

“There is strong evidence to show that experiencing domestic violence has a negative impact on children’s development and emotional wellbeing so anything that helps schools to provide appropriate support sooner is very much welcomed.