Teachers warned to look out for signs of abuse among children

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TEACHERS are being sent a stark warning that pupils are suffering in silence with domestic abuse.

Letters have been sent to headteachers at schools across Portsmouth urging them to watch out for signs of violence in the home.

It comes as new figures show domestic violence reports to Hampshire Constabulary in our area rose three per cent last year to 3,622.

That amounts to almost 10 every day on average.

Last year, 530 Portsmouth children most at risk of serious harm were referred to a confidential specialist group chaired by police – called a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference.

They developed safety plans and put support in place to offer more protection as quickly as possible.

But it is feared many more children are not getting the help they need as many cases go unreported.

The letter is written by Sally Jackson, hidden violence manager at the Safer Portsmouth Partnership, made up of organisations including Portsmouth City Council, police and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

In it she writes: ‘Last year 530 children got support after their and their parents’ case was discussed at the MARAC.

‘Only the most at risk (of murder) cases are heard and it is widely accepted that this is probably only 10 per cent of children affected.

‘This means without doubt you have children in your school that are living with domestic abuse.’

Teachers are encouraged to quietly single out parents who they believe could be suffering from domestic abuse and where appropriate let them know where they can get help – without necessarily contacting police.

Contact numbers offering help to victims of sexual and domestic abuse have also been sent to schools and Portsmouth City Council workers are being offered free training.

Sally Jackson added: ‘We are keen that all staff in schools know how to respond appropriately to disclosures of domestic abuse and are aware how to support and refer to other agencies to best protect the safety of the adult and any children involved.’