Your job as a parent is one of the most difficult, it can be both challenging and rewarding. Every family is different and there is no one perfect way to bring up a child.

Good parenting involves caring for a child’s basic needs, keeping them safe, showing affection and love and helping  them develop and achieve their potential. Children thrive best in a stable environment where they experience consistent guidance and boundaries.

If and when you need support, asking for help is seen as a sign of being a responsible parent. It is often the way difficulties are handled that can make a difference to your children, both now and in the future.

The Devon and Torbay Safeguarding Children Boards want all children in Devon and Torbay to be safe and to lead healthy and happy lives and become responsible citizens who may one day raise their own children.

Am I in an abusive relationship?

Because of the nature of abusive relationships sometimes victims don’t know that what is happening to them is wrong. If you’re not sure whether you’re relationships is abusive, take this quiz  from Devon and Cornwall Police.

If you think domestic abuse is having an effect on you, your child or a child you know, you can contact there are plenty of services available to provide help and support.

In Devon, you can contact Devon Domestic Abuse Support Service on on 0345 155 1074 or visit the Devon Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Alliance (DSVA) for more information.

In Torbay, you can contact Torbay Domestic Abuse Service on 01803 698869 or email tdas@sanctuary-housing.co.uk

Help is also available from Women’s Aid, the National Domestic Violence Helpline and Men’s Advice Line

In the majority of families where there are children, and where abuse is taking place, the children will be aware of this, and will often hear it or see it going on. According to the Department of Health, at least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence and abuse. In some cases, the children themselves will suffer physical or sexual abuse from the same person.

Children react in different ways to being brought up in a home with a person who abuses others. Age, race, sex, culture, stage of development, and individual personality will all have an effect on a child’s responses. Most children, however, will be affected in some way by the controlling behaviour of an abuser, by witnessing arguments, distressing behaviours or assault.

Domestic abuse can have a huge impact on children and their development, no matter what their age.  Children don’t have to directly witness domestic abuse or violence to be affected by it. Many children are often aware of domestic abuse much earlier than parents may realise.  

In what ways do children witness domestic abuse?

Children may:

  • Be physically present during violence or conflict
  • Overhear violence or conflict
  • Witness the outcome of violence (e.g. crying, bruises etc)
  • Think that they have triggered violence
  • Be aware of physical and emotional effects on their parent
  • Get drawn into violence towards their parent

You can find out more about domestic abuse and violence, and the impact it can have on children at the Women’s Aid  website.

Any parent will tell you that their main role is to ensure that their children are safe and well cared for. However, there are some things that can get in the way of parenting.

Consistent use of drugs and alcohol can impair a parents capability to be responsible and safe. Too much of these substances will inhibit your sense, meaning you are not alert to the environment around you and this can compromise your safety and the safety of your children.

If you think that drugs or alcohol are preventing you or someone you know from parenting responsibly or is putting a child at risk, you can contact the NSPCC to discuss your concerns.

Help is also available from AdFam (supporting families affected by drugs and alcohol), Frank (drugs advice for young people) or in an emergency call the Police on 999.

Consistent and/or excessive use of drugs and alcohol by a parent responsible for the care of a child can impair their ability to ensure their child is safe and well. Too much alcohol or drugs inhibits your senses, meaning you are not alert to the environment around you – this can seriously compromise your safety and those you are responsible for and care for.

In Devon you can contact Addaction or RISE Recovery for more help and advice.

In Torbay you can speak to Torbay Alcohol Service (TAS) on 01803 604334. The Family Information Service run by Torbay Council is also able to offer help and advice. Call them on 0800 328 5974.

Childline are able to offer help and advice to children and young people who have any concerns, The freephone number is 0800 1111.

Help and support is available from NIDirect and the Disabled Parents Network provides practical and emotional support to disabled parents. Help is also available from Disability, Pregnancy and Parenting International.

Parents may encounter particular challenges related to their disability. These can range from mobility problems that make it hard to pick up your child or push a buggy, to learning disabilities that mean you need help to read letters and understand advice. Disability can also create inappropriate caring behaviours in the children that are in your care.

 

Rethink Mental Illness and The Mind Office offer help, advice and support for parents and carers who suffer from mental illness.

When a parent becomes mentally unwell, it can be difficult for them to explain to their child what is happening and for the child to make sense of their parent’s behaviour. Parents and children or young people often feel isolated and unsupported when the parent is unwell, which can increase distress and anxiety across the family.

Research has shown that some children of parents with a severe mental illness experience greater levels of emotional, psychological and behavioural problems than children and young people in the rest of the population. This may be because the genes that some of them inherit make them more vulnerable to mental ill health, but it could also be because of their situation and the environment in which they are growing up (Mental Health Foundation, 2014).

Children and young people spend a lot of time online and may face risks such as cyberbullying or being exposed to inappropriate content.

Whether you’re unsure about what happens online or are familiar with new technology, it’s important that you talk to your child about staying safe. It may feel daunting, but you don’t need to be an expert on the internet. Understanding what children do online and the risks they face will help you keep your child safe online.

You can visit the NSPCC website for help and guidance on online safety or you will find advice on Think You Know and Child Net.

The NSPCC has launched a new campaign called Share Aware, offering advice and information for parents and carers who are worried about their children’s use of the internet and social networks. Find out more and download the information guides here.

For more information read:

A Family Group Conference is a decision making process which empowers families to make decisions regarding the care and protection of children, or those at risk of neglect or abuse. They give families the chance to get together to make the best plan possible for their children. It is an ‘opt in’ process for families and is facilitated by an Independent Co-ordinator.

A Family Group Conference will only go ahead if you agree to it, and if you change your mind you can cancel at any time. You can also decide when it happens, where it happens and who is invited.

The service is run by Devon County Council or Torbay Council but is independent of the decision making safeguarding processes to maintain this independence. If you would like more information, contact 01392 388659 or 01392 393120 (Devon) or 01803 207755 (Torbay).

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Click here to read more about Torbay’s Family Group Conferences.

Download the Devon Family Group Conference leaflet.