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Domestic violence: what should paediatricians do?
  1. R M Brooks1,
  2. A M Mott2
  1. 1
    Department of Child Health, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2
    St David’s Children’s Centre, Cardiff, UK
  1. Dr R M Brooks, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK; Brooksrm1{at}

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Domestic abuse is a common problem that is being increasingly recognised. The harm to women is now taken seriously and there are new initiatives in many areas to deal with the risks. There is increasing evidence of the harm to children who live in families where there is domestic violence. This paper aims to define the problem of domestic abuse, focusing on the problems for children, defining the extent of the problem, and what paediatricians can do. Paediatricians, like all child health professionals, need to have an understanding of domestic abuse as it affects both adult and child. Paediatricians should be aware of local multiagency strategies for managing domestic abuse and ensure that children are considered in all cases. It is important that they know what they can do to protect women and children when they uncover a history of domestic abuse.

Responding to domestic abuse: a handbook for health professionals, is a resource for all health professionals and provides guidance on their role, creating a supportive environment, asking about domestic abuse, what to do if a woman discloses abuse, keeping records, confidentiality and information sharing. It states that “Under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, living with or witnessing domestic violence is identified as a source of ‘significant harm’ for children. So if children are exposed to domestic abuse, health professionals should follow normal child protection procedures”.1


Domestic abuse is “Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality”.1

Domestic abuse can occur to men from female partners and within same sex relationships. However, the majority of domestic abuse occurs from men towards their female partners and the research findings referred to in this …

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  • Competing interests: None.