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More must be done to protect child victims of domestic abuse

27 January, 2009 - by Sue Ramsey

Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast and member of the Health Committee, Sue Ramsey, has today stated that more must be done to help protect the victims of Domestic Violence but in particular children and youths who are directly affected.

Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:

"Domestic violence is an issue that many people think affects adults but few consider the effects on children and young people. An NSPCC report this week highlights that more than 300,000 children have been injured trying to stop arguments between adults at home.

"There are numerous factors that can hinder families, children and young people getting adequate support or redress to instances of domestic violence.

"I know of certain refuges where older male teenagers aren't allowed in. What then happens families with a 15,16 or 17-year-old boys whose families seek refuge? These refuges have good reasons to why this happens but we need to see parallel refuges set up to address this gap in provision.

"There also must be an investment in existing refuge services and an expansion of these services into areas where facilities aren't existent so that if victims wish, they can be close to relatives or friends, for a feeling of security.

"On top of this actually take an injunction or a non-molestation order can cost between £500 and £1,000 pound yet vulnerable families on Family Tax Credit may not be able to access legal aid which means they must find this money. This essentially boils down to an issue of victims paying for their own and their children's safety.

"These issues are only the tip of the iceberg that families with children or young people face when trying to escape a trap of domestic violence and highlights the magnitude of despair that many have to face.

"It further highlights the urgent need for a comprehensive, cross departmental approach to tackle the issues of domestic violence. We need an approach that deals with all victims, but especially children and young people, provides for them absolute support and helps eliminate this injustice." CRIOCH

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