World Cup in Qatar could leave children ‘at greater risk of domestic abuse’, NSPCC warn

Children will face an increased risk of domestic abuse during the World Cup, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has warned.
Children will face an increased risk of domestic abuse during the World Cup, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has warned.

The charity said emotional stress, alcohol and betting on the matches could act as potential triggers to incidents in the home over the next four weeks.

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Children will face an increased risk of domestic abuse during the World Cup, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has warned.

A general view of the Doha skyline featuring a building with an England flag lit up and an advert featuring Harry Kane ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
A general view of the Doha skyline featuring a building with an England flag lit up and an advert featuring Harry Kane ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

The charity said emotional stress, alcohol and betting on the matches could act as potential triggers to incidents in the home over the next four weeks.

During the 2018 competition, there was a spike in the number of people contacting the NSPCC’s helpline about children experiencing violence and abuse at home.

It received 1,060 child welfare contacts about domestic abuse, an increase of a third compared to the monthly average, the charity said.

It fears hundreds of thousands of children could be at risk during the tournament which begins in Qatar on November 20.

Recent Government figures found domestic abuse was a factor in just under 250,000 assessments of children in need in England in 2021-22.

A general view of Adidas Al Rihla match balls during a training session at the Al Wakrah Sports Club, Stadium Al Wakrah, Qatar.
A general view of Adidas Al Rihla match balls during a training session at the Al Wakrah Sports Club, Stadium Al Wakrah, Qatar.

Jess, from North Wales, recalled having to stay out of the room when matches were broadcast during the 1998 World Cup.

She said: “If we had to go through to get to the kitchen, I stayed absolutely silent.

“I don’t think he was a big football fan, it was just another way he was able to control us. When the football was on, everything revolved around the TV.

“Of course, if his team lost we’d all feel the effects. His mood would change and my mum would be the one who he’d direct most of his anger towards.

“We were always on eggshells but when the football was on, the ending would feel inevitable.”

NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless said: “The majority of fans across the country will enjoy the World Cup with friends and family but for many children living with domestic abuse it will bring nervousness, fear and even violence.

“Anyone who hears or sees something worrying regarding a child while watching the football can reach out to the NSPCC Helpline for confidential advice.

“Domestic abuse can decimate a child’s confidence and sense of security and, without support, it can have a devastating impact at the time and long into the future.

“The Government could take a step towards ensuring children have the opportunity to recover from domestic abuse by pressing ahead with a victims’ bill that recognises the needs of the hundreds of thousands of children living in violent homes.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime and we fully recognise the devastating impact it can have on children and young people.

“We are determined to better protect and support the victims of abuse, including children, and bring perpetrators to justice.

“This year, we are increasing funding for the Children Affected by Domestic Abuse Fund, allocating more than £4 million to organisations providing specialist support to children experiencing domestic abuse.”

Anyone with any concerns about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email [email protected]

Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk