Deon is 8. His obsession with police started when he first saw the flashing lights of a cop car in full flight when he was 5.
But lately, the police have visited Deon’s family more than he would’ve liked.
Over the last 2 years, Deon’s dad had become more and more violent. Coming home late. Drunk. Yelling at his mum. A flurry of shouting, crashing, screaming. Deon would hear his mother quietly sobbing as he tried to fall back to sleep.
This time was different. When Deon’s dad got home he seemed angrier. There was less yelling and more fists. Deon couldn’t bear the sound of his mum being hit, so he tried to help her. That’s when he got hit.
The physical pain was hard to bear. But the way it made him feel was far worse. He didn’t know why it was happening in the first place or how to make it stop. He racked his brain trying to work out what he had done to deserve it. But he couldn’t find the answer.
The police referred Deon and his mum to Barnardos, where Deon went through the Children’s Safety Programme. Over a number of sessions with a Barnardos social worker, Deon began to work through what he had experienced, learning that it wasn’t his fault and that he and mum deserve to be safe.
He learnt about how to keep himself safe in scary situations, in a group with other kids who had been through the same situation and could relate to the way Deon was feeling.
“The physical pain was hard to bear. But the way it made him feel was far worse.”
Deon and his mum were able to rebuild
“They’re replacing their memories of pain and fear with moments of shared joy and laughter.”
A year later, Deon and his mum are rebuilding their lives. She has a new partner. They’re replacing their memories of pain and fear with moments of shared joy and laughter.
Because of people like you, more than 125 children go through the Barnardos Children’s Safety Programme every month.
Will you donate today to help keeps kids like Deon safe from violence?
*To ensure the privacy and safety of everyone concerned, names in this story have been changed and actors have been used for all photography.