A new survey undertaken by Victoria Legal Aid has discovered that children who are victims of domestic violence are more like to get into trouble with the law as adults. The survey was conducted over a period of ten years of half a million clients to map how often people were using their services.
The survey found that the majority of clients who used their services many times as an adult had come into contact with Legal Aid before the age of 18. Some had been as young as ten years old. The director of family, youth and children’s law at Victoria Legal Aid, Nicole Rich, said that a very high proportion of these clients had experienced family violence and that a significant number had a mental illness.
She said that the findings reveal the vulnerability of some of their clients. “A bad start to life…can set you up for having some pretty poor outcomes in the future. It really reinforces the need for early intervention and support services to be put in place…to break the cycle.”
Fiona McCormack from Domestic Violence Victoria says that counselling services for child victims of domestic violence are absolutely inundated. She said that family violence forces thousands of women and children out of their homes every year, with education and community support interrupted. Often the victims of domestic violence face additional problems including chronic poverty and homelessness, which leads to children being disadvantaged from a very young age.
We know that early intervention is the key to breaking family violence and it’s consequences for children.