POLICE have today launched a Christmas crackdown on domestic violence.
Using the message ‘Children can learn by example’ it asks those involved in an abusive relationship to think about the affect their behaviour is having on youngsters living under the same roof.
During the course of the campaign, which will run until January, posters will go on display across the borough giving helplines for both victims and perpetrators.
And artwork will also feature in football programmes, including the one for the Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland at St James’s Park on December 21.
Posters will also appear on public transport to reinforce the campaign message, which is being supported by Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria.
Mrs Baird, who made domestic and sexual abuse a priority of her police and crime plan and with her fellow north east Commissioners launched the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy in 2013, said: “It is well known that the victims of domestic abuse are not just those who bear the brunt of the assaults and abuse but the children who witness these events on a daily basis.
“Sadly these youngsters can also be the target for this violence meaning that the impact of this behaviour has a far reaching and long-lasting impact which is often perpetuated through generations.
“Domestic abuse is a terrible legacy for families and we must protect the victims and any children to ensure this crime is tackled.
“One important area where this can be implemented is through education. This is by taking the key messages into schools, youth clubs and colleges, and talking with teachers and youth leaders about the effects of domestic violence and how the different strands of awareness can be best communicated to the young people, as they look at the areas of healthy relationships.
“People must not stay quiet and think it is their fault - this is never the case and there are people working in various organisations who can help victims to safety and the assistance they need.
“And while this is a Christmas campaign, it is not a crime which is just limited to the festive season. Domestic abuse happens every hour of every day of every year and we must ensure this crime is never forgotten.”
Temporary Detective Superintendent Lisa Orchard added: “Children can ‘witness’ domestic abuse in many ways.
“They don’t have to see this first hand. They may be in another room and hear everything that’s happening. They may see the aftermath of a violent episode such as injuries to their parents or guardians or breakages in the house.
“However it’s witnessed, it can still go on to have a detrimental impact on a child’s own behaviour.
“They may become withdrawn, anxious or depressed; have problems with school or even go on to display aggression themselves.
“While we completely understand the trauma faced by victims of domestic violence, we’re urging them to think about how this is also traumatic for any children involved and can affect the rest of their lives. They can stop this cycle of abuse by reporting it to police or speaking to a support agency.
“The same message goes to those who commit acts of domestic violence who should seek help to alter their behaviour.
“We don’t tolerate domestic violence at any time of year but it’s important we highlight the issue now.
“We already know alcohol is a factor in domestic violence and added tension of the festive season can lead to an increase in reported incidents.
“Our priority is ensuring the safety of the victim and any children present while dealing positively with offenders.
“Committing offences behind doors will not prevent us from making every effort of taking action against perpetrators to bring them to justice.
“As always we would urge victims to come forward and report incidents to us. They can be assured we will be supportive and sensitive to their needs.”
Anyone suffering abuse can call 0800 066 5555 for independent and confidential advice.
To change abusive behaviour, call Respect on 0808 802 4040.
In an emergency, call 999 or to speak to your local Neighbourhood Policing Team call 101, extension 69191.