Domestic abuse

Children deserve to life free from abuse but we lack the evidence about how to protect children from this severe and widespread issue

Despite its prevalence and severity, the UK evidence for what works to prevent domestic abuse and reduce the impact of trauma where children are affected is weak. There have been very few UK impact evaluations of support for children affected by domestic abuse.  We want to identify the most effective approaches that can be made widely available to support child victims. 

What do we already know?

We know that domestic abuse can have a huge negative impact on outcomes for children. It casts long shadows over children’s lives and their ability to develop the safe, stable and nurturing relationships they need to thrive. But right now we don’t know enough about how to support children and families who are at risk or who are victims of  domestic abuse.  Many of the programmes that are currently available have not been evaluated for impact; we have identified over 100 programmes in this area, two-thirds of which have not been evaluated at all. Even where some evaluations have taken place, they are not robust impact evaluations and therefore they cannot tell us whether the support has worked or not.  

What more do we need to know?  

Long-term, we want to  find out which programmes improve outcomes for children affected by domestic abuse. To get to that stage, we first need make sure that programmes are ready for to be evaluated, and then evaluate them for impact. We also want to understand more about the best way to conduct evaluations, for example working out which outcomes are most appropriate and how to measure them.   

What are we doing about it?

We are working to develop and build consensus around the best evaluation methods and outcome measures in this area. We are also developing the pipeline of programmes that can be evaluated for impact, and we are funding and evaluating promising interventions including preventative approaches, perpetrator programmes and support for parent and child victim-survivors. We will soon be launching an ambitious 5-year plan for the next government, setting out the work and investment needed to significantly improve our understanding of what works.  

The REACH Plan: A five-year plan to find out what works to prevent domestic abuse & support child victims

Strengthening knowledge and awareness in family services of domestic abuse (SKAFADA)

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