New link to improve support for children affected by domestic abuse
Durham County Council is working with police and schools to improve the support for children affected by domestic abuse.
But now authorities are set to work more closely together, through Operation Encompass, to better share information so that teachers can provide the help their pupils may need.
Sixty-two county councillors have put a total of £12,345 towards the project, which will see a new worker hired to support the improved link-up.
'Safe, listened to and supported'
Cllr Joy Allen, the council's Cabinet member for safer communities, said: "Witnessing domestic abuse is really distressing for children and young people.
"They can often see the abuse, hear it from another room, see a parent being hurt or even be accidentally hurt themselves trying to stop it.
"Following such an incident, pupils will often arrive for lessons upset and unprepared.
"Operation Encompass will make sure that an adult at the school is made aware early enough to support children in the best way possible.
"We hope all schools in County Durham will participate in the scheme to ensure information about incidents is shared with them before the start of the next school day so that support can then be given to a child in a way that is right for them, so that they feel safe, listened to and supported."
Operation Encompass does not replace existing safeguarding procedures, but is designed to support them, with schools given the opportunity to opt in to the scheme if they want to be part of it.
'No child should slip through the net'
Durham Constabulary safeguarding unit manager, Helen Murphy, said: "The effects of domestic abuse taking place at home can be wide-reaching for children. Our concerns were that following an incident a child might be left unprepared for the next day at school, either mentally or physically.
"That child could then face the prospect of a disciplinary action at school for something that was out of their control, and as a victim they would effectively be suffering twice.
"This new system means that no child should slip through the net. Schools are quickly notified when a domestic incident has taken place which means that the following school day the staff can support that pupil accordingly.
"This initiative continues our efforts to put victims at the very heart of our service."
When will schools be given information?
Participating schools will, from January 2017, receive information during term time when:
- Police have attended a domestic abuse incident.
- A child or young person is present in the household at the time of the incident, either in the same or a separate room.
- The child or young person is of school age.
- The incident has been assessed to be a high or medium risk incident of domestic abuse.