SafeLives welcomes report calling for early government intervention to address childhood trauma

21st November 2018

SafeLives welcomes the recent report from the Science and Technology Select Committee, which calls for a national strategy on early government intervention to address childhood trauma. Domestic abuse is one of the most common causes of childhood trauma and evidence shows that children don’t have to be the direct target of abuse to be profoundly affected. SafeLives calls on the government to respond to this important report and stands ready to feed its data and learning into any national strategy.

SafeLives Chief Executive, Suzanne Jacob said:

“By the time they start primary school on average, one child in every class will have been living with Domestic Abuse since they day they were born. This is not something we can be relaxed about. The Committee report suggests ways in which adverse childhood experiences can be spotted earlier. We agree that this should be a priority for government.”

Domestic Abuse is the single most common contributing factor to children who are assessed by local authorities as being in need. When combined with other Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), such as alcohol abuse in the family and parental separation, children who have experienced domestic abuse are significantly more likely to suffer a range of serious social, mental and physical health outcomes as adults – from the likelihood of being in prison to the likelihood of having a heart attack. None of this inevitable if people get the support they need.

Suzanne Jacob added:

“The Select Committee report identifies an absence of national data on childhood adversity. SafeLives has some of the best data on domestic abuse in the UK and we stand ready to work with researchers inside and out of government to deepen the public understanding of how experiences of DA in childhood affect outcomes in later life.”

SafeLives recognises the challenges depicted in the report of missed opportunities to keep children safe because failures of coordination in central government – and agencies at the frontline - to work with each other. It is currently piloting approaches to tackle this in its ‘One Front Door Programme’ in seven local authorities in England. There will be important lessons to be learnt from these pilots. SafeLives believes that bringing adult and children services closer together in a ‘whole family’ approach, will mean Domestic Abuse is spotted earlier, keeping children and their parents safe.