Traumatic childhoods for Croydon children lead to problems in adulthood, warns report

More than 800 babies in Croydon will go through physical abuse every year Pic: Silvia Trigo

Fourteen percent of babies born in Croydon each year will suffer physical abuse while eight percent will also be affected by domestic violence and homelessness, according to a new report.

The figures show that out of 6000 babies born in Croydon every year, 858 will experience physical abuse, 720 will have parents with mental health problems and 1320 will experience parental separation.

Of these, 500 are likely to experience four or more of what are termed Adverse Childhood Experiences such as abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.

Rachel Flowers, the borough’s director of public health, also warns in her  annual public health report that traumatic experiences in childhood can adversely affect whole lives.

She also stresses the impact of the wider social environment  in a child’s life, including factors such as parents’ and carers’ income, housing, neighbourhoods, social relationships, age and ethnic group.

Children born into deprived communities are more likely to experience multiple ACEs. In 2015, almost a fifth of Croydon children were living in poverty.

Speaking to the community and councillors at a Croydon Cabinet meeting, Flowers said: “We all have a role to play when it comes to tackling health inequality in babies. It takes a village to raise a child. Everyone can make a difference in creating a positive, stimulating, environment.”

In a stark warning, the study found that children in Croydon who had experienced four or more ACEs  in their 1000 days, compared with children who had not experienced any such traumas, were, during the course of their lives :

  • Thirty times more likely to have attempted suicide
  • Ten times more likely to have problem drug use
  • Eight times more likely to have committed a crime
  • Six times more likely to have problem alcohol use
  • Four times more likely to have depression
  • Four  times more likely to have been a teenage parent

Tony Newman, Leader of Croydon Council, said: “The more we understand about the first 1,000 days of child’s life and what influences them at the borough, community, locality, family and individual level, the more chance they will have to thrive equally.

Croydon Council has placed prevention at the heart of all our work. We are working with our communities and partner organisations to ensure that children experience the best first 1,000 days. This is a key prevention activity that will enable us to change the future health of Croydon residents.”

The council aims to provide 100% of midwives and health visitors in Croydon with training to recognise and support families at risk of multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences by the end of 2019.

This year’s report comes days after UN rapporteur Philip Alston’s hard-hitting report on poverty and children living in destitution.

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