When children are being subjected to physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or psychological abuse by a member of a household, it is vital to seek expert legal help as soon as possible before the situation escalates.
It is important to realise that domestic violence does not just involve parents and children – but children may suffer domestic violence from the partner or boyfriend/girlfriend of a parent, as well as siblings or other family members such as uncles, aunts or cousins.
It is also not unheard of for lodgers or tenants in a household to subject children to domestic violence.
Domestic violence may involve regular abuse – or abuse which starts because parents are under pressure from family breakdown, financial problems, housing problems, unemployment or ill health or a mental health condition involving a parent, child or other member of a household.
The situation may start with what appears to be harmless behaviour towards a child – teasing, goading, maybe a slap when a child is perceived as “not behaving”.
But this behaviour can become almost acceptable within a family unit or household – and in some cases may escalate into more harmful behaviour, including physical assault causing injury or serious injury, as well as sexual abuse, verbal abuse and neglect.
In the UK, domestic violence on children now includes female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.
Giving a child banned substances like Class A or Class B drugs, alcohol or cigarettes is not only unlawful, but is also considered domestic abuse.
Making a child carry out work is also potentially domestic abuse if it is harmful – for example, children are forced to work regularly against their wishes or are punished for not working. There are regulations to protect children who work, including regulations about prohibited industries and permitted working hours.
If a local authority receives information that a child may be at risk of significant harm as a result of domestic violence, Social Services have a legal duty to take action under the Children Act 1989. This may lead to a Section 47 enquiry being launched.
In urgent cases where significant harm has already occurred or a child is at immediate risk of significant harm, a child may be placed under a Police Protection Order and can be removed from the home and found accommodation in a children’s home or foster home. The Local Authority (Social Services) then has 72 hours in which to decide whether to take the child into care.
Police are also likely to arrest and/or interview anyone suspected of inflicting domestic violence on a child.
In cases of domestic violence on children, parents, guardians or carers are usually awarded Legal Aid to cover the cost of advice from a specialist child care solicitor with experience in child protection cases.
Duncan Lewis is the UK’s leading provider of Legal Aid services and can advise on cases involving domestic violence on children, including:
For expert legal advice on domestic violence on children, call Duncan Lewis divorce solicitors on 020 7923 4020 – or call the Duncan Lewis Domestic Violence Solicitors Helpline in confidence on 07920 077054.
Parents, family members and members of a household not related to a child who are facing allegations of domestic violence also need to take legal advice from a criminal defence solicitor who can advise on the charges they may be facing.
For 24/7 help at a police station because of domestic violence allegations, call the Duncan Lewis Emergency Hotline on 020 7275 2036.
Not everyone facing allegations of domestic violence on a child is guilty – and Duncan Lewis has a successful department covering Civil Liberties law and can advise on miscarriages of justice involving wrongful conviction of a parent, guardian or carer, including cases where a child might later have been found to have sustained injury as a result of an undiagnosed medical condition.
For expert legal advice on wrongful conviction for domestic violence on children, call Duncan Lewis crime lawyers on 020 7923 4020.