Focus on children in violent homes

THE safety of youngsters with abusive parents will be in the spotlight today as calls are made to protect them from domestic violence.

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Community Safety Glasgow's Assist project wants to see a radical overhaul of the current system so that children in Scotland are given more protection from domestic abuse and offending parents are forced to address their behaviour.

At a major conference in the city organised by Assist, renowned US-based domestic abuse expert David Mandel will discuss how child protection teams can help youngsters impact-ed by perpetrators.

Glasgow-based Mhairi McGowan, head of Assist, said the con-ference was a "crucial step" in preventing young people from ending up back in con-tact with a parent who abuses their partner.

She said: "The foremost issue we are asked by survivors of domestic abuse is how can they safeguard their children from a previously abusive partner.

"In most cases, these children have already experienced far more turmoil than is healthy, having been exposed to the irrevocably damaging realities of domestic abuse."

Ms McGowan said a "significant" number of children were still being sent to abusive partners despite checks by domestic abuse courts.

She said: "Some of these partners have even been known to manipulate the current system by gaining access to their children simply to further torment or abuse the surviving partner."

It is hoped Mr Mandel's Safe and Together model, which advises that children are kept with the non-offending parent, will eventually be rolled out in Scotland.

Ms McGowan said it was "exactly the type of systemic change we need to implement".

Mr Mandel said child protection agencies must be "domestic violence informed", adding: "Domestic violence perpetrators hurt children in a myriad of ways.

"While some children appear to be resilient and show no symptoms, many children who are exposed to a parent's physically abusive behaviour display externalising and internalising behaviour including aggression, anxiety and long-term adjustment issues."

More than 150 people are to attend the conference, including commissioner for children and young people Tam Baillie, who is to discuss youth rights and domestic abuse.

rachel.loxton@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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