Think tank calls for Royal Commission on child protectionBMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g4263 (Published 25 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g4263
A Royal Commission should be established in the next parliament to advise on the radical redesign of England’s social care and mental health services for vulnerable children and young people, according to the Centre for Social Justice.1
The think tank’s report, Enough is Enough, says that social care and mental health services are in crisis, with large numbers of vulnerable children and young people slipping through the net.
“Child protection and mental health failures in England are like an open wound,” said Christian Guy, director of the Centre for Social Justice. “It’s not good enough that we have to wait until we hear the child neglect horror stories before anything is done.”
The 400 page report is the result of two years of research and includes a detailed analysis of the cases of 20 vulnerable children and young people who have been supported by the London based charity Kids Company.
The report details one case of a boy whose mother who was addicted to crack cocaine. He experienced severe neglect and was often without food. Now at 23 years old he has obsessive compulsive disorder, high levels of anxiety, and delayed emotional development. Another case highlighted was that of a teenage girl who had been sexually abused from a young age. During periods when she was living with her father she was introduced to men who sexually abused her. She self harmed, made several suicide attempts, and was admitted to an adolescent psychiatric unit before finally being placed in care at the age of 14.
The report states that good practice exists in child protection and statutory mental health systems in some areas. However, public sector reform and the current financial climate mean many children and young people are not receiving the support they need. Some of the witnesses interviewed in the report described social care services as “overwhelmed,” “in crisis,” and at “breaking point.”
It says the point at which young people qualify for help is often too high and there is a group of “lone children” who are not been taken care of by their parents or state services.
One in 10 children aged between 5 and 16 years has a mental illness, the report says. However, this figure is based on data gathered a decade ago, and the Centre for Social Justice believes the numbers are now higher.
In response to the report, Kids Company has launched the See the Child, Change the System campaign (www.seethechild.org) calling for a radical redesign of children’s services.
Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g4263