Calls to NSPCC about children living in violent homes rise by over 50% as we urge government to support all children

According to new figures, the average monthly contacts to the NSPCC helpline about children and domestic violence has soared since the first lockdown began. To tackle the problem, we want the government to fund essential recovery services.


  • Our helpline is receiving an average of over 30 contacts a day from adults worried about children living with domestic abuse.
  • Compared to pre-lockdown figures, the monthly average number of contacts between April and December 2020 was 53% higher than the pre-lockdown average. 8,371 contacts were made during this time, peaking at 1,053 contacts in November alone.

"For the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing loud and aggressive shouting between a man and woman who live a few doors away from me. They’re at it pretty much every day and it generally lasts a couple of hours. Sometimes I hear their children crying when the parents are arguing. I’ve only really noticed this since I’ve been at home on furlough. I’m worried the kids aren’t being looked after properly."
A concerned neighbour calling the NSPCC helpline

Neighbours like this, who are increasingly alerting us to their worries about children, have raised fears among our frontline teams. Having seen the rise in calls, they are worried about the consequences of domestic abuse on children. When this form of abuse isn’t dealt with, it can have long-term impacts on children’s physical and mental wellbeing that can last into adulthood. Young people who experience domestic abuse can have trouble learning, depression or suicidal thoughts, or develop eating disorders drugs or alcohol problems.

"Recently my mum has been yelling at me and calling me names for no apparent reason. My parents fight a lot, like really a lot. My dad overreacts but mum makes the situation worse. Today my parents got in a huge argument that included a lot of shouting and my dad was throwing things at my mum. I was shocked because none of their fights have got physical before, and now I am wondering how bad things could get. My parents don’t talk anymore and they treat me like their little messenger passing comments between them. It is really affecting me as I constantly feel anxious and cry myself to sleep. I really need help."
A 13-year-old caller to Childline

More government support needed

Last year, after years of campaigning by the NSPCC and other charities, the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill recognised that children do experience domestic abuse and could also be victims. Now, we’re calling on government to make a further amendment to fund community-based services for children, run by local agencies.

Anna Edmundson, NSPCC head of policy, said: “The risk of domestic abuse has been heightened in the last nine months with families living under increasing pressure and behind closed doors.

“To stop the pandemic having a lasting impact on children who suffer in this way it is vital they have access to support in the community to recover and move forward with their lives as not all victims can go to a refuge for support.

 “The government has taken the crucial step of recognising the profound impact domestic abuse has on children’s wellbeing but they now need to go further and ensure there are services for children in the community, wherever they live.”


Domestic Abuse Recovering Together (DART) is our community-based programme which supports mothers and children to deal with the impact of domestic abuse. Given the increased need for services like DART to help families deal with the effects of abuse during lockdown, we’re looking to expand the service.

How services such as DART can help:

  • increase mothers’ self-esteem and confidence in parenting and affection towards their children
  • reduce children’s emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • help practitioners, mothers and children work together

Find out more about all our services for children.


*This is a true story but names have been changed to protect identities and any photographs are posed by models.


  1. 1. In the period prior to lockdown (6 January – 22 March 2020) the helpline responded to a monthly average of 607 contacts about domestic abuse. In the period since lockdown restrictions were implemented (1 April –  31 December 2020) the monthly average had risen to 930. In November, we responded to 1,053 contacts about domestic abuse - our highest ever level.