MP speaks out on domestic abuse bill
AN MP has spoken out about the current age of the Domestic Abuse Bill, which is 16, therefore not protecting children under that age.
Liz McInnes, MP for Heywood and Middleton, spoke in the House of Commons on Wednesday, October 2, about the impact of domestic abuse on children and how this Bill could be improved to maximise their protection.
She focused mainly on the age limit of the bill.
Liz said: “The Bill’s definition of domestic abuse does not extend to relationships between persons under 16 years of age.
“Many campaigners have argued for a wider definition in order to include teenagers who are in relationships and experiencing violence or abuse and thus allowing for an early response to stop abuse escalating.
“Teenagers may not realise that they are experiencing abuse and are less likely than older victims to call a helpline.
“Research has found that two-thirds of teenage girls who have been in an abusive relationship did not recognise that behaviour as abusive.
“This highlights the importance of educating young people on what healthy relationships look like.
“Having a bad boyfriend should not be seen as an acceptable right of teenage passage.”
The age limit has been a hotly contested aspect of the Bill with the Children’s Society suggesting that an age limit of 13 years would be more appropriate.
However, the Joint Committee in charge of drafting the Bill decided to restrict the age limit to 16 years of age because of concerns that lowering it would lead to the criminalisation of under 16-year-old perpetrators.
However, the committee did recommend that the government conduct a specific review on how to address domestic abuse within relationships between under 16-yearolds, including ageappropriate consequences for perpetrators.
Liz also called for greater support for children who’ve lived in abusive households.
She said: “These children need access to vital services like counselling and mental health services so that they can recover from the harm they’ve suffered and work towards a positive future.
“Research demonstrates that specialist children’s services do reduce the impact of domestic abuse and improve children’s safety and health outcomes, which is why it is so concerning that dedicated support for children and young people is falling.”