Our childhood experiences can have a significant impact on how we are able to grow and develop physically, mentally, and socially. We all grow up to experience a variety of attachments within our various relationships, some positive and some negative.
“Children’s development and mental health are affected by various factors, including the environments they are raised in, the relationships they build and their experiences. Child development refers to the physical, cognitive, emotional and social growth that occurs throughout a child and young person’s life. Children’s mental health – their cognitive, behaviour and social well-being is affected by this development, as well as a range of factors, including trauma and abuse. All aspects of children’s health and development work together, form their overall well-being.” (NSPCC).
According to the Office for National Statistics - Child Abuse in England and Wales: March 2020
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are “highly stressful, and potentially traumatic, events or situations that occur during childhood and/or adolescence. They can be a single event, or prolonged threats to, and breaches of, the young person’s safety, security, trust or bodily integrity.” (Young Minds, 2018).
Surveys conducted with adults inform us that at least 10% will have experienced some form of abuse during their childhood. They also tell us that 10% or more of the population will have experienced four or more ACEs before the age of 18, however, it is difficult to take these statistics into account as it is not fully representative of different groups.
Some examples of ACEs can include:
When an individual experiences ACEs, this can significantly impact their future. When considering how an ACE can impact a person we must consider both their physical and mental health. For example, a child who grows up in a positive family environment may be much more confident to share how they are feeling, feel supported and loved by their family and friends, have a higher level of confidence in their own identity, and feel safe. Therefore, a child growing up within this environment may be better able to achieve positive outcomes in later life.
ACEs can create significant difficulties for children and adults when they are trying to form healthy relationships and attachments. It is however important to note that not all children who experience ACEs will be subject to the same impacts and can be less susceptible to issues in later life. Every person is an individual and one size won’t always fit all. One in three diagnosed mental health conditions in adulthood directly relate to ACEs.
Some examples of impacts can include:
A whole school approach is required to ensure that all employees and learners are safe from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This includes adhering to robust safeguarding and well-being policy and procedures.
Organisations should aim to:
Contact your local Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) to discuss Early Help Assessment or Child Protection.
MIND Charity: 0300 123 3393 https://www.mind.org.uk/
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774 https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/
PAPYRUS: 0800 068 4141 https://www.papyrus-uk.org/
NSPCC: 0808 800 5000 https://www.nspcc.org.uk/
Prisoners' Families Helpline: 0808 808 2003 www.prisonersfamilies.org
Cruse Bereavement: 0808 808 1677 www.cruse.org.uk/get-support/
Refuge Domestic abuse: 0808 2000 247 www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
Advice for the families of people who use drugs and alcohol: Advice for the families of people who use drugs – NHS - NHS (www.nhs.uk)