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13 April 2016, 08:09
A Capital investigation's found children as young as 10 in the East Midlands have been reported to police for violence against family members.
A freedom of information request has found detectives in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire looked into 676 cases between 2012 and 2015.
Domestic abuse support workers are calling for more discussions around it, saying it is swept under the carpet more than adult abuse in the home.
Sarah Camplin from Nottingham domestic abuse charity Equation has been leading a project in the St. Ann's area of the city into this. She thinks more discussion and education around the issue will allow families to get support before it's too late.
She said: "People who come forward for help tend to be just reported cases, the tip of the iceberg. Generally, families come to the attention of agencies when it's reached a level that's becoming unmanageable for that family.
"Abuse is about power and control and it's targeted towards people you know and tend to have more of an intimate relationship with. Therefore it tends to be the mother that is the victim in these cases.
"It is a crime, but I'm unsure if charging and dealing with children through the justice system is that positive for them.
"Perhaps there should be some sanctions, in terms of the law. But it's more productive to help and support children that young away from violent behaviours."
Police say the number of cases are small compared to adult violence, and they try as much as possible to ensure children are not charged.
Although Detective Inspector Mark Parrish, who leads Leicestershire Police's domestic abuse team, admits sometimes they have no other option.
"We quite clearly, and quite rightly have to respond to reports Sometimes we have to go down the charge route but it is always a last resort.
"We don't want to criminalise yong persons, and there are reasons as to why it's happening. So we try and work closely with them to resolve these problems. It could be that they've seen violence in the family and are copying it.
"We'll try and support them as much as we can. It could just be more regular visits, referring them to support charities and so on. It's different in each case but we try and keep an eye on what is going on."