Referrals of children living in homes affected by domestic abuse have increased more than 30% since the start of the pandemic, a charity has said.
Figures from the NSPCC children’s charity show the average monthly referrals of children living in such homes rose from 32 a month during January-March to 42 throughout the rest of last year.
A total of 377 referrals were made by the charity to authorities such as police and social workers between April 1 and December 31.
Concerned neighbours have increasingly reported hearing non-stop arguing and children crying to the charity’s confidential helpline for adults worried about youngsters.
One member of the public who called the helpline for advice said: “For the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing loud and aggressive shouting between a man and woman who live a few doors away from me.
“They’re at it pretty much every day and it generally lasts a couple of hours. Sometimes I hear their children crying when the parents are arguing.
“I’ve only really noticed this since I’ve been at home on furlough. I’m worried the kids aren’t being looked after properly.”
The charity said that left unaddressed, such situations can have profound and long-term impacts on children’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Joanna Barrett, NSPCC Scotland policy and public affairs manager, said: “With families facing increased pressure behind closed doors, lockdown restrictions have made some children more vulnerable to experiencing domestic abuse, as well as other forms of abuse and neglect.
“It is vital that no child becomes invisible at this time, and support is available and provided now to all children and families who need it.
“It is also so important that people speak out if they are concerned about a child. Our helpline experts are there to answer any questions and concerns, provide reassurance or take quick action if we feel a child is in danger.”
The charity said young people who experience domestic abuse can have trouble learning, experience depression or suicidal thoughts, or develop eating disorders, drugs or alcohol problems.
One 13-year-old told the helpline: “Recently my mum has been yelling at me and calling me names for no apparent reason. My parents fight a lot, like really a lot.
“My dad overreacts but mum makes the situation worse. Today my parents got in a huge argument that included a lot of shouting and my dad was throwing things at my mum.
“I was shocked because none of their fights have got physical before, and now I am wondering how bad things could get.
“My parents don’t talk anymore and they treat me like their little messenger passing comments between them. It is really affecting me as I constantly feel anxious and cry myself to sleep. I really need help.”
Anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse, or has concerns that someone else may be, can contact the NSPCC’s helpline for information and advice on 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.