Young people experiencing increased levels of abuse during lockdown, research suggests

‘I can’t escape. I just want everything to go back to how it was,’ says young person

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 28 April 2020 15:58 BST
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

More than half of young people using a mental health app have reported increased levels of abuse at home during lockdown, research shows.

Kooth, an NHS commissioned service providing support to young people aged 10 to 25, recorded responses from service users between 3 March and 12 April this year.

It compared these with responses from the period of 3 March to 14 April in 2019 and found a 51 per cent increase in young people experiencing abuse at home.

“Not sure how long I can cope. I feel so alone. My parents are always drinking and shouting at me,” said one young person using the service.

“I can’t escape. I just want everything to go back to how it was.”

With schools across the UK shut for all children except those whose parents are key workers, many young people are having to spend increased time indoors with abusive parents.

“Ever since the quarantine I’ve been spending more time with my parents which is bad because they don’t like me,” another child said.

“They ignore me and shout at me if I talk to them while they’re watching tv”.

There has been a surge in domestic violence since lockdown was introduced last month, putting thousands of women and children at increased risk.

“In such close proximity to each other...domestic violence is given more fuel than the situation ordinarily would have,” says Dan Mills-Da’Bell, head of safeguarding XenZone, which runs the Kooth app.

“Often school, work, or social activities, can be a respite from abusive and violent situations, but right now, there is no respite, so the intensity and regularity of violence increases, and our most vulnerable bear the brunt of this.”

On Monday, a report by MPs revealed that domestic abuse killings had doubled over a 21-day period during lockdown, while Refuge – a domestic abuse charity – saw calls to its helpline increase by 49 per cent.

MPs have called for the expansion of a “safe spaces” model where victims can assess urgent help in supermarkets and other retailers.

“Without strong action to tackle domestic abuse and support victims during the Covid-19 pandemic, society will be dealing with the devastating consequences for a generation,” the report added.

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