More than half a million children are vulnerable

Children’s commissioner shines light on extent of vulnerability among young people in England

More than half a million children in England are so vulnerable that the state has to step in, a report by the children’s commissioner has warned.

Anne Longfield has stated in her report into children’s vulnerability that 580,000 children – equivalent to the population of Manchester – are so vulnerable that the state has to step in and provide direct care, intervention or support.

The analysis has revealed for the first time the scale of vulnerability among children in England.

The report highlights that almost 700,000 children are living in families that have vulnerabilities, including over 15,000 children living with an adult receiving alcohol treatment and nearly 12,000 living with an adult in drug treatment. 200,000 children are judged by their local authority to have experienced trauma or abuse.

In addition the report found:

  • 370,000 children whose actions have put their futures at risk, including 160,000 children temporarily or permanently excluded from school in England.
  • 800,000 children aged 5 to 17 suffer mental health disorders.
  • An estimated 46,000 children are thought to be part of a gang.
  • 119,000 children are homeless or living in insecure or unstable housing.
  • 170,000 children are estimated to do unpaid caring for family members, of which many have not been identified and offered support.
  • 1,200 children are newly identified victims of modern slavery per year.

Yet the figures are just the tip of the iceberg with many more children going under the radar.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “It is shocking that half a million children – a number equivalent to the entire population of Manchester – need direct intervention or care from the state because they are living vulnerable lives. On top of that there are many hundreds of thousands of other children growing up in potentially high-risk situations.

“Yet even more shocking is that this is only the tip of the iceberg. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher. The truth is nobody knows the exact number of vulnerable children,” she added.

Over the next year the Commissioner will use her unique statutory powers to request data from local authorities, Government departments and others to fill in these gaps.

The aim of the report is to shine a light on the nature and scale of children’s vulnerability in England and to look at how the thousands of ‘invisible’ children can be better identified.

Ms Longfield said: “What we do know is that even these numbers are unacceptably high. Our ambition as a nation should be for all our children to live happy and healthy lives. This report shows that millions are not doing so – and that has to change.”

Children’s commissioner report on vulnerability