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A book written by PhD student Rebecca Barns to help young children understand domestic abuse was launched this week at Henbury & Brentry Children’s Centre.

The Bright Ones, illustrated by local artist Lindsey Barraclough, is aimed at children aged between three and six years old and takes an allegorical look at the lives and struggles of four garden-dwelling creatures, whose exploits and struggles bring this difficult issue to life. The book has been funded by the Safer Bristol team including NHS Bristol, Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol.

Domestic abuse is a difficult subject to talk about with adults and can be confusing and difficult for children to understand. The Safer Bristol team worked with Barns, a postgraduate student in the School for Policy Studies, to create a narrative that is easy to understand for children. The book focuses on four characters – the ‘Bright Ones’ that live in every garden with ‘giants’, and explores how they cope when the giants are ‘scary’, and what happens when one giant leaves the garden.

The book will be distributed to those working with children in Bristol to use as a teaching resource. Hugh Annett, Bristol’s director of public health, said: ‘Children cope better when they are able to talk to caring adults who understand their feelings.

‘Parents, caregivers and practitioners are often unsure how to talk with a child about domestic violence and abuse. We hope that this book opens up conversations where children can raise any concerns that they may have and start that process.’

Author Rebecca Barns said: ‘I hope that this book will help mothers and childcare workers to start to talk to their children about domestic violence. It may be that children don’t say anything about the abuse at the time when the story is read, but I believe that it’s important that they know that the topic is not off limits, and that it is OK to talk about, when they are able to.’

She continued: ‘Children should realise they are not alone and that there are lots of different ways of reacting to what has happened. Some children, particularly young children, may find it really difficult to identify their emotions, and I hope that this book will help them to do this. I am immensely grateful for the support that NHS Bristol has provided to develop this book.’

Professor Ray Jones, independent chair of Bristol’s safeguarding children’s board, said: ‘Abuse within families is wrong and dangerous whether the victims are children or adults. And for children there is the emotional stress and the fear of being within a family where there is domestic violence.

Helping children to talk about their experiences is important and this book is a welcome resource for children and those who seek to provide help in Bristol and beyond.’

For further information, please contact Gemma Myers on 0117 984 1580 or [email protected].







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