Chronic child abuse and domestic violence: Children and families with long-term and complex needs

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It is estimated that up to one million children may have been exposed to domestic violence in the UK, with significant consequences for their social and emotional development in childhood and later life. At a time when the central and devolved administrations in the UK have developed strategies to tackle domestic violence, this paper reports the findings from a study conducted on children in the child protection system with long-term and complex needs as a result of experiencing domestic violence. The research identifies the characteristics of the children and their families and tracks their careers through the child protection system. The findings indicate that professionals have an awareness of domestic violence, and that younger children with younger parents are most likely to experience prolonged periods in the child protection system. Domestic violence in this context typically co-exists in families experiencing other difficulties such as substance misuse and socio-economic deprivation. In conclusion, the paper argues that Government policy and professional practice should primarily be concerned with assessing the risk that men present, rather than the risk that children are at. By reframing professional interventions, men are more likely to be challenged to accept responsibility for their behaviour and the consequences for their families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-453
Number of pages11
JournalChild & Family Social Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2008


  • child protection
  • domestic violence
  • social exclusion


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