Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has revealed that nobody knows the exact number of vulnerable children living in the United Kingdom, and that this news should be a “wake-up call” to the government and policy-makers.
Ms Longfield has attempted to create a report calculating the total number of vulnerable children because there is so little data currently available. However, despite researchers’ best efforts, it has become clear that this report will be no light work to create. Data is being drawn from sources that are 13 years out of date in some cases, and a lot of data contains overlaps and double-counting.
There have been some startling figures revealed from the research so far. The Children’s Commissioner fears that these figures are only the “tip of the iceberg”, and that actual numbers will be much higher.
According to the evidence collected by Ms Longfield’s team, around 670,000 children live in high-risk family situations in the UK, and 119,000 children are homeless or living in insecure or unstable accommodation. 500,000 children are so vulnerable that the state has to step in with support, and a worrying 200,000 children are thought to have experienced trauma or abuse.
There is no data to cover the so-called “invisible children” who have not been reported to the government, or who have not been picked up on throughout the research due to gaps in data.
“The actual numbers are likely to be much higher. The truth is nobody knows the exact number of vulnerable children,” Ms Longfield said of the report.
Work will continue on a larger scale to clarify the amount of vulnerable children living in the UK, alongside a wider campaign to encourage the government to collect better data and give an exact definition of what counts as vulnerability.