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What we say about… Childhood adversity

Children, young people and families · Position statements | October 30, 2023

Our key messages

  • The physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of babies, children and young people are significantly shaped by the social determinants of health in which they are born, live and grow.


  • A child can be vulnerable to the impact of action or inaction by other people and their physical and social environment, including poverty, social inequalities, and structural racism.


  • A whole system approach is needed to address the determinants of child health, with strong national policies and joint working between the NHS, housing, education, social services, and youth justice sectors.


  • A shift towards prevention and early intervention is needed to support babies, children, and young people to lead healthy and fulfilling lives and prevent ill health in later life.

Our national recommendations

  • Binding national targets to reduce child poverty and tackle the causes of health inequalities should be reintroduced across the UK.


  • Wellbeing should be built into policy decision making to tackle the social determinants of health.


  • Children should be enabled to influence policy decision making in matters related to them.


  • A whole family approach should be taken to prevent and reduce the impact of childhood adversity with a focus on positive parenting and healthy family relationships.


  • The digital ‘red book’ is a first step in coordinating information on children’s development and adversities and providing high-quality, evidence-based services that are specific to each child’s needs.


  • Investment should be made to help support and share innovation and drive improved performance outcomes in every area.


Our local recommendations

  • A whole system, placed-based approach and a whole school approach should be adopted to improve children’s health and wellbeing outcomes with effective integration of schools, communities, health, and social care services.


  • Health professionals including GPs, midwives, health visitors, and social workers should be trained to identify and support prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal maternal problems early, including infant and paternal mental health needs.


  • NHS staff should be trained to understand the impact of health inequalities and use a Making Every Contact Count approach to link families with financial needs with appropriate
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