New Children’s Commissioner’s 2019 report reveals rates of childhood vulnerability

New report reveals that an estimated 2.3 million children are living with risk because of a vulnerable family background.

Key findings

This report examines the latest scale of, and trends over time in, rates of childhood vulnerability.

Data on how the prevalence of childhood vulnerability is changing over time is limited. It is not possible to explore this question reliably for many vulnerable groups, such as children in need of protection, with health issues, educated outside mainstream schools, or facing housing difficulties.

Subject to this caveat, we can see that some vulnerabilities have become more common:

  • The proportion of children aged 5-15 with any mental health issue has increased slightly, from just under 10% in 1999 to just over 11% in 2017. Rising prevalence of emotional disorders has been mostly, but not entirely, offset by falling prevalence of behavioural disorders.
  •  There has been a faster increase in the prevalence of mental health issues among girls aged 11- 15: from 9% in 1999 to 13% in 2017. This includes an increase of more than 50% in the rate of emotional disorders (such as anxiety and depression).
  • The number of children living in temporary accommodation has increased by 76% between the quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2018.
  • The rate of permanent exclusions from school has increased by over 50% between 2012/13 and 2016/17, while the rate of children experiencing a fixed term exclusion has increased by 20% over the same period.
  • The number of ‘Child in Need’ referrals where the child was assessed not to be in need increased by 66% between 2012/13 and 2017/18.
  • The proportion of children living in material deprivation and severe poverty has recently increased slightly (from 4% in 2016/17 to 5% in 2017/18).
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