SafeLives' response to report from the Children's Commissioner

4th July 2017

SafeLives welcomes the report from the Children's Commissioner today. It is vital that we urgently improve our response to vulnerable children. The Commissioner identifies both the scale of the issues involved, and also the desperate need to make our response more coordinated and effective. 

Our Safe Young Lives research, published today, shows the additional vulnerability and mental health concerns of young people living with abuse – one of the largest groups Anne Longfield has identified as being at serious risk. We know that young people experiencing domestic abuse are twice as likely to self-harm compared to older groups. One in five children are exposed to domestic abuse, but only half of those in the most dangerous households are even known to children’s services. At the same time, half of boys (13 – 14 year olds) think it would be ‘ok to hit a partner’. We need to protect, support and inform children today to reduce domestic abuse and further trauma tomorrow.

For so long, we have tried to keep family members and the issues they face in neat and tidy boxes that make sense to us as response agencies. Families don’t operate in those silos and neither should we.  

The SafeLives One Front Door model is dedicated to closing gaps and finding ways to help services work in partnership. Our work with local authorities aims to overcome historic gaps and artificial boundaries.

Jo Silver, SafeLives Director of Practice, said:

"Too many children are living unhappy and unsafe lives, and it’s not good enough that we don’t even know who some of them are, or where they are. By responding to a whole family at the same time - every family member, every risk, every vulnerability - we can actually understand the whole picture, which is the only way we’ll be in a position to provide the response which makes people of all ages safer, sooner."

We have been really encouraged to see growing recognition of the need for a whole family and whole picture approach. We hear from our partners the pressing need to see this vision turn into tangible improvement. Joint reports by the major inspectorates have recently reached the same conclusion. We hope the Government will respond urgently to Anne Longfield's report. Our training, data and innovative work in this field is all available for those who want to create change.

Further reading: Spotlight resources and specialist training for professionals working with young people