Police trial new scheme in Daventry to help children who may be witnessing domestic abuse

PCSO Kristen Bates presenting the project to young people
PCSO Kristen Bates presenting the project to young people

A new scheme called the Blue Butterfly Project has been piloted with 600 children in Daventry, to help children understand the feelings they might have if they witness domestic violence.

It also encourages children to share their feelings if they have been affected by bullying at home or school.

The scheme takes its name from ‘butterflies in the tummy,’ the sensation people experience when they are scared. The aim is to help children recognise the emotions they might experience if something isn’t right, and has been proven to be an effective way to engage with children, with officers reporting disclosures of violence in the home from children who have attended a session.

The key messages delivered to the children, aged between seven and 11, is that the ‘butterflies in the tummy’ feeling is a normal response to being afraid and they shouldn’t keep their fears to themselves – there are adults available to talk to who can help them.

Each child who participates in the project wears a blue butterfly badge which they’ve helped to make, which acts as a reminder of the messages they have been given.

The project has been so successful that plans are in place to deliver it to schools across the county over the coming months.

PCSO Kirsten Bates, who delivers the Blue Butterfly Project, said: “For years I have been doing presentations in schools about how to speak out about your worries. I have always talked about the butterfly feeling in your tummy and the importance of releasing the worry and sharing the problem.

“About 18 months ago I had a seven-year-old child ask to speak to me and she said she had that butterfly feeling. I thought she was going to tell me her hamster had died, but she told me her daddy had been hitting her mummy and how, when that happened, she got that butterfly feeling.

“On the back of that, I thought ‘this is something that children understand’. So Katrina Heath (SCT Coordinator, South Northants and Daventry) and myself developed a presentation around the butterfly feeling. We also now have a blue butterfly pin badge.”

Kirsten added: “The project encourages children to understand if certain behaviours they might have seen at home are not normal. Sometimes if children have only seen a certain behaviour, they might not know any different. “

District Commander for Daventry and South Northants, Chief Inspector Tom Thompson, said: “The Blue Butterfly Project is part of Operation Scorpion, the force’s campaign to reduce violent crime.

“It is a great way of delivering a powerful message to young people; if they are seeing bullying or violence, at home, in school, or elsewhere, it is normal to get butterflies and there are safe ways to talk to an adult about it.

“I’d like to see project extended to schools across the county.”