By Joseph Willits
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Yesterday in the House of Commons, Parilamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education Tim Loughton spoke of the need for children exposed to domestic violence to receive "well targeted support from a range of agencies". Loughton said that "prolonged or regular exposure to domestic violence" was "likely to have a serious impact on children’s safety and welfare".
Labour MP Graeme Morrice asked Loughton how the "number of children who are exposed to domestic abuse both as witnesses and as victims" could be reduced. Loughton said that the very fact that domestic violence "is at the core of many safeguarding issues" is "alarming". Both the introduction of specialist domestic violence social workers, and "an ending violence against women and girls action plan" produced by the Government last March, were too examples of the problem being addressed.
Loughton also spoke of the need to clarify the currently confusing definition of domestic violence, which has been one of the priorities of an inter-ministerial group chaired by Theresa May.
The action plan won praise from Labour MP Kate Green who stressed the importance of boys being "educated about the absolute unacceptability of domestic violence as part of the personal, social, health and economic education curriculum". Another element of the inter-ministerial group, Loughton said, was to "see what input the Department for Education can have in ensuring that children are aware from an appropriate young age of the problems of domestic violence".
It was also a priority for children to be taught about "respectful relationships as part of sex and relationships education and PSHE. He continued:
"There are things that we can do at home, in schools and with the agencies that are there to help prevent domestic violence, intervene and apprehend people who are responsible for that horrendous crime."
Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti linked in the issue of honour-based violence to the broader picture of domestic violence. This was one of the key reasons in favour of "cross-governmental co-operation and joint planning", Loughton said:
"We need to do more work on it and use local safeguarding children boards to help us join up all the responsible agencies … the Department for Education and the Home Office in particular are at the heart of ensuring that we address this really horrific problem."