Adverse childhood experiences – consultation response

In 2017 we responded to the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into evidence-based early-years intervention.

The role of the Science and Technology Committee is to ensure that Government policy and decision-making is based on good scientific engineering advice and evidence. The inquiry into evidence-based early-years intervention is available online. The scope of the inquiry is to examine the strength of the evidence linking adverse childhood experiences with long term negative outcomes, the evidence base for related interventions and the support for research into this area.

Our response

  • Children of all ages must be protected from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and given support to develop the resilience to thrive in today and tomorrow’s society.
  • Some evidence exists to demonstrate an association between ACEs and negative outcomes for children and young people. However, not all of the existing evidence is robust.
  • Rates of reported mental health problems in children are rising and increasing evidence points towards ACEs as contributing to the development of mental health disorders later in life.
  • Little robust research currently exists to claim there is a sufficient evidence base for specific interventions.
  • Government policies have confounded negative outcomes for children and young people. As funding and resources have been cut, effective preventative interventions are neither sufficiently available or appropriately adequate.

Our recommendations

  • Consolidation of existing literature should be conducted prior to further research in this area. Evidence that ACEs lead to negative outcomes and that intervention strategies are effective in mitigating consequences should be outlined, understood and implemented.
  • Research should focus on the influence of ACEs upon the resilience of children and young people.
  • Research, especially on testing interventions to prevent and ameliorate adverse childhood experiences, should be supported through collaboration with key stakeholders engaged in the field, backed by sufficient incentives and funding mechanisms to develop and test interventions that support early childhood development.
  • A cross-Governmental summit should be held to provide a platform for discussion and engagement with necessary stakeholders (Department of Health, NHSE, PHE, HEE, DfE, the Home Office, Royal Colleges and academics working in the field).
  • Early help services should be supported and funded with adequate provision.
  • UK Governments should follow recommendations outlined in our State of Child Health report and introduce comprehensive programmes to reduce child poverty.

We respond to a wide range of consultations to ensure that the College’s position, and ultimately children’s health, is represented. Members can get involved in current consultations by contacting the Health Policy team: