Vulnerable Children

Shining a light on the extent and impact of child vulnerability in England.

Vulnerable Children

If you ask government, academics or any of the thousands of experts on children’s issues how many vulnerable children there are in this country today, many will give the same answer: we don’t really know.

We want that to change, so a central part of our long-term work programme is to shine a light on the extent and impact of child vulnerability in England, by examining the nature and scale of children’s vulnerability and investigating how the thousands of ‘invisible’ children could be better identified.

Our initial report, ‘The Children’s Commissioner’s Report on Vulnerable Children’, published in July 2017, revealed for the first time the scale of vulnerability by bringing together a range of information held by various government departments, agencies, and other organisations. The report provides a set of 32 groups of children that have come to be associated with forms of vulnerability or risk.

Among the findings, the report reveals:

  • Over half a million children are so vulnerable that the state has to step in

  • 670,000 children in England are growing up in ‘high risk’ family situations

  • Thousands of children are living with adults in treatment for drink or drugs

  • 800,000 children are suffering from mental health difficulties

  • Tens of thousands of children are involved with gangs

  • There are over a thousand new child victims of slavery each year

However, we acknowledge that there are data gaps and that the number of children identified in the first report are likely just the tip of the iceberg. Many vulnerable children are ‘under the radar’ and are unidentified.

That is why our first vulnerability report is a starting point of what is a constantly ongoing project to tackle the bewildering number of ways vulnerability is defined. Eventually we want it to lead to the development of a framework for vulnerability that can be used by government and experts more widely.

Clarifying the present unhelpful situation is a matter of both efficiency and commons sense and a vital part of reaching the vulnerable children we want to identify and whose lives we want to make better.

You can read our first report on vulnerable children here.

Children’s Voices

As part of our long-term programme looking at the extent of child vulnerability in England, we commissioned and have published a series of ‘Children’s Voices’ reports which directly represent the voices of relatively small groups of children whose views and interests might otherwise go unheard.

The series of studies tell the first-hand stories of vulnerable groups of children in England, on a range of issues from children suffering from mental illnesses, to children in gangs and children in detention. These anonymous accounts of children aged 17 and under shine a light on their life experiences and provide a valuable insight into some of the issues around vulnerability.

Children’s Voices: The Wellbeing of Children excluded from Schools and in Alternative Provision

Children’s Voices: The Wellbeing of Children in Detention in England

Children’s Voices: The Wellbeing of Children Subject to Immigration Controls in England

Children’s Voices: The Wellbeing of Children involved in Gangs in England

Children’s Voices: The Wellbeing of Children with Mental Health Needs in England