A detailed study of the lives and experiences of 60 vulnerable young people, 23 girls and 37 boys, has today been published by Croydon Safeguarding Children Board (CSCB).
The Vulnerable Adolescents Review – published here – was commissioned in summer 2017 following the tragic deaths of three young people in less than a month, with the aim of understanding the factors that led to such devastating consequences.
In the largest piece of work undertaken by the board to date, the CSCB widened the scope of the review to include a further 57 additional vulnerable young people, who were identified as being of concern, including those particularly at-risk from violence and exploitation.
Bringing together information from their families, social care, schools, health, police, youth offending and community organisations – and where possible, the young people themselves – the review explores every aspect of their lives, the support that they received and their present circumstances.
The findings highlight a high proportion had experienced paternal absence (72%), exposure to domestic abuse (42%), homelessness (28%) and maternal absence (27%). All 60 were known to social care – more than half of them by the age of five – and 70% had been referred to child mental health services.
Findings particularly highlight the importance of education and the pivotal nature of exclusions. Of the 19 young people in the cohort who received a fixed term exclusion in primary school, 100% went on to receive a criminal conviction.
The learning from the review will inform every aspect of work and future service planning with children and young people in Croydon.
Di Smith, Chair of CSCB, said: “With young people’s safety a concern London-wide, Croydon has taken the brave step of conducting this ground-breaking piece of research to help us understand and tackle the root causes of serious youth violence and exploitation.
“Following the tragic deaths of three young people in summer 2017 – each of whom were known to us by the age of two – we came together as a partnership to take action. We have undertaken a detailed study of those young people’s lives, together with 57 others who we identified as being particularly vulnerable to being the victims and/or perpetrators of crime and exploitation.
“By working with these young people and their families, taking an in-depth look at their lives, their experiences, the support that they received, their present circumstances – and in some case, tragically, their deaths – we hope to understand what led them to such life-changing, and in some cases, life-ending paths.
“The review highlights the importance of strengthening families, building their resilience at an early stage – and the pivotal importance of education in children and young people’s lives.
“This learning will be invaluable as we go forward, as a strong and cohesive partnership, to take a preventative approach to youth crime, strengthen families and help our young people to make positive choices.”