More on volunteering in the field of domestic violence while you're at university... Why not consider outreach work with young people?
This section further develops your knowledge of domestic violence, specifically how it affects children and young people. (We were particularly keen to feature work with children and young people on the mini-site as sociology and politics students are often interested in working with young people, for instance as teachers or youth workers...)
After text about how children are affected - written by Damian Carnell from Nottinghamshire Domestic Violence Forum - you'll read about an organisation - Safe and Sound, Derby - that seeks to help children and young people, via outreach work. You'll look at what outreach volunteers need to be able to do.
In the section that follows, you'll hear from students/graduates who have done outreach volunteering. See if it appeals to you....
How does living with domestic violence impact on children and young people?
Where children are living with domestic violence the abuser will try and use them to be part of their physical and emotional control of the abused partner. Sometimes the children will see or hear the abuse, sometimes they are made to join in with the abuse, sometimes they are directly abused when trying to protect one parent or abused to stop them from telling others about what is going on.
Some people say that children might not see or hear the abuse at night because they are asleep, yet children talk of being woken up by the abuse and hiding under the bed or hiding in the wardrobe in extreme fear.
Some people say that men who abuse the children's mum can still be good dads. This is not true either, for good dads don't harm a child's mother.
Even after the abused partner may have ended the relationship the abusive partner may still insist on residency of the children or use child contact as a way to maintain their abuse and control over the ex-partner. This is especially common with male perpetrators of violence against women, who look to punish their ex-partner for leaving and do this by harming the children, sometimes killing the children and themselves.
The examples below are some of the ways that children get caught up in domestic violence.
What do we know about other effects living with domestic violence has on children and young people?
Foetus - 2 years
3 years - 7 years
8 years - 12 years
What might make it difficult for a child or young person to disclose that they are living with domestic violence?
It is very risky for a child or young person to disclose that domestic violence is going on in their home. They don't know what response they will get from the person they tell or what will happen with that information. They are likely to have heard of all kinds of good and bad experiences others have had. They may have told someone before and nothing happened. How do they know who they can tell and who will respond responsibly and sensitively to their disclosure?
The following graphic illustrates the fears children and young people may have...
It is therefore vital that they receive the best response and the best practice to follow. This requires professionals and volunteers to take up training opportunities available to them on understanding domestic violence, how it impacts on children and young people, how to support them, and what the good practice procedures are for intervening and investigating. Many organisations now have domestic violence intervention policies and procedures.
Key Support Services:
- Women's Aid Organisations (have website, some have children and young people's outreach services, and support workers within refuges)
- NSPCC (have website, phone-line and some local area support groups
- ChildLine (has website and phone-line)
- Other voluntary sector children's and young people's services
- Local Authority Children's Social Care
Key pointers to always remember:
- Children should be listened to and be believed
- Domestic violence is never the child's fault or the fault of the abused parent
- Children should be safe in their own home and live free from fear
- Familiarise yourself with procedures and policies
- Get to know about relevant support services who can help
- Always seek advice from a line manager if you suspect abuse, or are not sure what action to take.
Safe and Sound, Derby work with children and young people, responding to a wide range of issues including children affected by domestic violence... Here's an overview of their work written by Diane, their training co-ordinator ...
Safe & Sound Derby is a specialist organisation which seeks to reach out to children and young people who are at risk of, or being, sexually exploited through criminal practices that threaten their physical and mental well-being.
Our definition of sexual exploitation corresponds with the definition held by the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People (NWG): "Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive 'something' (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of performing, and/or others performing on them, sexual activities.
"Child sexual exploitation can occur through use of technology without the child's immediate recognition, for example the persuasion to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones with no immediate payment or gain. In all cases those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources." (http://www.nationalworkinggroup.co.uk/csedefinition.html)
Being sexually exploited has a detrimental impact on a young person's health and well-being. They often experience violence, including serious sexual violence (rape, sexual assault, trafficked for sexual exploitation), physical assault and domestic violence; mental ill health, including attempted suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders; lack of education; and family breakdown.
Safe & Sound Derby was established in 2002, and is the recognised provider of support in Derby to children and young people aged 18 years and under who are being, or at serious risk of being, sexually exploited. We deliver the following services:
- One-to-one support - project workers follow up referrals received from other organisations and individuals and work to engage young people with our service. Support is tailored to meet each individual young person's needs.
- Preventative education - delivered to young people in schools and other educational settings, including Pupil Referral Units. Through this work we aim to increase awareness amongst young people about sexual exploitation, to prevent them from becoming involved.
- City Outreach - the Outreach Team delivers street and venue based outreach to raise awareness amongst young people about sexual exploitation and how to stay safe. The Team targets areas where young people congregate, including parks, under-18s events at local night clubs, shopping centres, and the city's streets.
- Training and awareness raising - training is delivered by frontline professionals who work with children and young people, and parents/carers, providing them with a greater level of recognition of the indicators of sexual exploitation to enable them to respond appropriately, ensuring that victims, and potential victims, receive specialist support.
In addition, presentations are given to private businesses and community groups to highlight the issue of child sexual exploitation amongst the wider community.
- Multi-agency work - collaborative working is essential to safeguarding children and young people who are being sexually exploited; we have therefore built strong working relationships with appropriate agencies, including the Children & Young People's Department, Health and Derbyshire Police.
Safe & Sound Derby also works closely with appropriate regional and national organisations and networks to advocate for young people who are sexually exploited, and to share knowledge and best practice, including the Home Office; the UK Human Trafficking Centre; the Department for Children, Schools & Families, the National Police Improvements Agency, and the National Working Group for Children and Young People Sexually Exploited.
We have eight full-time members of staff, and six part-time members of staff. The project team has a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience, and is made up of social workers, youth and community workers, and people with other relevant backgrounds. In addition, we have 15 active volunteers who support the work of the outreach team.
Could you help an organisation like Safe and Sound? Read the following notes about what they expect of their volunteers to start to find out...
The Outreach team consists of 2 members of staff and a group of volunteers.
The outreach team deliver awareness-raising and prevention work in various areas and venues across the city.
What you'll actually be doing:
- You will accompany a worker plus other volunteers to venues and areas across the city where children and young people aged between 10-19 years congregate
- You will make contact with young people and offer hot & cold drinks, snacks and hand out safety packs (which include condoms)
- You will build up a relationship with the young people that you meet and pass on information about the project, what we offer and facilities available
- You will keep client information confidential
- You will signpost young people to other agencies when relevant
- You will complete related administration work required for outreach sessions
- Most of the outreach takes place in the evenings and at weekends. It is carried out in a variety of ways including on foot, in venues and occasionally by car to surrounding areas of the city
- The volunteering opportunity is ongoing. As we provide in-depth training and an enhanced CRB check, we would like you to stay for one academic year if at all possible. Your name will be added to the rota once a month. If you feel you have more time to offer and would like to sign up for more sessions that would be great
- You will be expected to attend monthly evaluation sessions at a time fixed to suit you
- We require you to be punctual for each outreach session
Skills and experience required:
- We are looking for people with excellent communication skills
- This role involves you having access to personal information regarding vulnerable young people, so it is important that you recognise and respect the need for confidentiality. We will ask you to comply with our confidentiality and data protection policies
- You will be meeting a wide range of people from different backgrounds, and to ensure that they all receive the same level of service we ask that you comply with our equal opportunities policy
- We have developed a training package to ensure you will have the skills to undertake this role. The training will take place over 4 sessions lasting approximately 3 hours per session. We require you to complete the training before you can begin your volunteering role with us
- We will offer other training opportunities on relevant subjects and interests as they become available, in order to help you develop your skills and increase your knowledge
- The Outreach Team Leaders will be available to provide you with ongoing support. You will also be given regular opportunities to give and receive feedback on a more formal basis
- At no point will you be expected to provide an outreach service without the support of a fully trained member of the Outreach Team
We will provide you with:
- Agreed expenses. These will be paid on a reimbursement basis. If this causes difficulties we will make alternative arrangements
- A uniform (T-shirt) and an ID tag
Before you start:
- We will ask for an enhanced CRB check to be completed before you can begin volunteering on the Outreach Team. We will cover the cost of the CRB check
- We will ask you to give us the contact details of two people who can provide us with a reference for you
Volunteering with young people requires knowledge of a range of issues. One example is: an understanding what is meant by 'grooming'...
All sexually exploited young people are groomed.
Grooming can take place either via the internet on chat rooms and social networks or face to face.
The grooming process is recognised in law and always follows the following sequence:
Ensnaring - the abuser will be five or more years older than the victim, if the victim is under 16.
The abuser will buy the victim gifts, such as clothing and credit for their mobile phone.
A relationship will begin. For a girl this will be a romantic relationship where the abuser will be viewed as the boyfriend.
For a male victim the gifts may take the form of alcohol and watching inappropriate films together - the abuser will be viewed as their 'best mate'.
Creating a dependency - the abuser needs to make the young person dependent on him.
He will do this by becoming possessive, isolating the young person from family and friends, excluding everyone else from the relationship, destroying items from outside the relationship e. g. family photos. He may even insist the young person is known by a different name.
Taking control - the abuser will control ALL aspects of the young person's life, such as where they go, who they speak to, what they eat and drink, what they wear.
Inconsistent violence is used at this stage so that the young person is not sure if they will be beaten, if they are in the right or wrong. The threat of violence keeps the young person in constant fear and the constant fear keeps them doing as they are instructed. Soft drugs and alcohol are used to control at this stage too.
The young person recognises the changes in the abuser's attitude towards them and blames themselves for this change, thinking: 'it must be my fault'.
The young person tries to behave in a manner which will make the abuser pleased.
Total dominance is the final stage of the grooming process.
The abuser will be the most important person in the young person's life. Ties to all others will have been broken. The young person will endure extreme sexual humiliation.