Kidspeak report 26.11.07
Throughout June & July 2007, an on-line messageboard was launched which enabled children and young people who have experienced domestic violence to share their views. We have now published a report based on the messages posted:
What is Kidspeak?
The Kidspeak on-line consultation with children and young people was set up by Women’s Aid, in partnership with Margaret Moran MP, and with the help of funding from The Body Shop. It took place throughout the months of June and July 2007.
Two separate secure message boards were created (screenshot left), linked to The Hideout, Women’s Aid’s website for children and young people affected by domestic violence. One message board was available for anyone to access; the other was for children and young people supported within domestic violence services, children’s charities, and similar organisations, and gave them the opportunity to ask questions and get responses from key decision makers (such as MPs, magistrates, judges and other professionals) who were invited to take part. To ensure the safety of participants, all messages received were checked by trained moderators before being available to read on the site.
Why did we set up Kidspeak?
We wanted to give children and young people who had experienced domestic violence the opportunity to talk about their experiences with one another in a safe environment. We also wanted to give them the opportunity to talk online to key decision-makers in their lives. Through doing this, we aimed to identify the needs of children and young people who experience domestic violence.
The information we received will be used to help children and young people who experience domestic violence, and in particular to:
- raise public awareness of the need for improved and increased services and resources for children and young people.
- inform further development of The Hideout website and other on-line services and new resources.
What children and young people want: key messages
1) Children and young people are almost always aware of the abuse – even if their parents try to keep it from them:
"I was really scared when I first heard my Mum and Dad shouting. I was afraid to go downstairs… I tried to forget all about it and go to sleep, but I couldn't because of all the things in my head… when I woke up the next morning it was all back to normal again. I didn't know what to do…" Silas, 11yrs
2) They would like to find someone they could talk to about their experiences, and whom they could trust:
"im feeling safe now because i have people around me and im talking to them now so if you get lonely … talk to someone you fell safe with". Ethan
3) They wanted to be listened to, to be taken seriously, and to be believed:
"My friend is being subjected to domestic violance .. he has been trying to find help but he doesn't know where to go…. He cant talk to anyone, noone believes him…. I just wish that i could do somethibg to stop it." Sara, 12yrs
4) Children and young people who had experienced domestic violence and other abuse were very supportive of each other:
"I read your messege and I would like to say that it made me feel sad for you, but you are not alone. Loads of people are in the same situation… I hope that someone can help you!" Milly
5) Children and young people wanted their views to be taken into account, whenever decisions were made that would affect their lives:
"… I just hope the court will listen to me and my mummy I think we shouldn’t have to see him. we can think for ourselves, I think the court should let us have our say…" Suzey 14 yrs
6) In particular, they did not always want to see the abusive parent or not until they were ready to do so:
"my dad used 2 hit me and my sisters … every week … he hurts my mum and us and i feel sad i hate him and i dont want 2 see him again". Jay
7) Children and young people wanted clear information and an appropriate response from any agency they approached for help and support – but sometimes found that was not forthcoming:
"I found by talking to the authorities the abuse worsened, my friends were not in a position to help, so I ended up carrying the burden alone.…" Marcus, 17 yrs
8) They appreciated the help provided by refuge organisations and other specialist domestic violence services – though they also found it hard if they had to leave home:
"… the hardest thing for me has been leaving my friends behind and knowing i have to make new ones where i live now. i also miss my belongings … it has been a different time in my life but it is alot better now and we are starting a new life and it will all be worth it in the end." Sophia, 16 yrs
9) Those children and young people who had ongoing support were appreciative of the help provided - for example through a special Women’s Aid support group set up for children and young people who had experienced domestic violence:
"… I really enjoy the girls’ group i would miss this support, it makes me less worried". Cara, 11 yrs
These messages from children and young people should not be ignored. It is clear that children are profoundly affected by hearing and witnessing domestic violence. They want to be able to talk about their experiences, and get help and support – but often such support is not readily available.
- View Women's Aid's recommendations within the Kidspeak Report (PDF).
This content is an extract from the Kidspeak Executive Summary, published 21 November 2007