NSPCC wants them recognised as victims
The charity says the Government needs to legally recognise children as victims of domestic abuse to get them more support and better protection.
Children can witness abuse between parents, or be part of it, if they try to intervene or become manipulated to "take sides".
The Government's proposed new definition of domestic abuse only refers to the effects of abuse on those aged 16 and over.
The call is backed by brothers Luke and Ryan Hart whose father murdered their mother and sister in 2016 after two decades of domestic abuse.
Ryan said: "We didn’t recognise it as abuse because there was never any violence but it was coercive control, financial, emotional, psychological abuse.
"What is often missed is the effects of living in that environment has on kids, growing up not only witnessing abuse but experiencing it day in and day out, how that affects us growing up and into adult life. Children living with domestic abuse are not just witnesses to the abuse, they are victims themselves. Luke and I know first-hand the psychological effects, emotional effects can have on you by seeing someone you love being a victim of abuse."
Almudena Lara, Head of Policy at the NSPCC, said: "It is quite astonishing that the government is dragging its feet when deciding whether to recognise young people as victims when almost a quarter of a million children that we know of are living with domestic abuse in England alone. As well as the day-to-day distress that living with domestic abuse creates, it can cause long-term problems into adulthood that can only be addressed through targeted services that understand the complex trauma children living with domestic abuse experience. For this to be done effectively we need government to open their eyes to the harm domestic abuse has on children and give them victim status in the upcoming White Paper to ensure they receive the services they need.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are determined to ensure anyone facing the threat of domestic abuse in any form has somewhere to turn to. This government will soon be publishing its draft Domestic Abuse Bill, which will transform our response to these crimes. We fully recognise the devastating effect that domestic abuse can have on children. That is why last year we launched a fund for projects designed to intervene early to help children who have been directly or indirectly affected by domestic abuse. We have awarded £163,000 to Operation Encompass, a charity which supports children who attend school following a domestic abuse incident."