Young People and Adolescence
Population Outcome: Young People and Adolescents in Suffolk and North East Essex Start Well
The best possible mental and physical health, and preparation for adulthood for young people is essential if everyone in Suffolk and North East Essex is to have a good start in life. Working in partnership with parents and young people to be safe and supported, and to achieve their aspirations, means young people can reach their full potential.
Health and Healthy Behaviours Data
- Suffolk has a considerably lower rate of cover of one dose of HPV vaccination for (12-13 year olds to protect adolescent females against cervical cancer) at 41.7%, compared to 82.7% in Essex and 76.7% for England.
- Survey data for England reports one in five (20%) of fifteen year olds had had sexual intercourse, a reduction from 35% in 2002 – Under 16 and Under 18 conception rates in Essex and Suffolk are statistically similar to England, and both have been reducing at a similar rate over the last 10 years.
- Since 2002, the proportions of young people who regularly smoke or drink, and who have ever tried smoking, alcohol or cannabis have declined
- Young people who drink regularly are more likely to misuse alcohol later in life. Binge drinking is more likely in young people aged 15-17, and is linked to other risky behaviours such as unprotected sex, self-harm and antisocial behaviour
For More information: Child and Maternal Health – Data – OHID (phe.org.uk)
- Percentage with a long-term illness, disability or medical condition diagnosed by a doctor at age 15 14.1% in Suffolk and 15.5% in Essex, both similar to England average
- Hospital admission rates for diabetes for ages 10-18 are significantly higher for Suffolk than England – this was not the case for ages 0-9. Essex has rates statistically similar to England.
- Hospital admission rates for alcohol specific conditions in Ipswich are significantly higher than England, while all other Suffolk lower tier local authorities have rates statistically similar to England.
For more information: Child and Maternal Health – Data – OHID (phe.org.uk)
Mental Health Data
- Most people who experience mental ill health as adults had a first episode before the age of 24.
- Mental ill health in childhood can affect educational attainment and socialisation, further impacting adult life.
- Children and young people with a mental disorder are more likely to be bullied and to bully others
- Prevalence of emotional disorders increased with age and are more common in girls than boys
- Behavioural disorders are the most common reason for referral of children and young people to child and adolescent mental health services – behavioural disorders were more common in boys and young men
- Suffolk rates of self harm are increasing in 15-19 year olds
- Young men are more likely to die by suicide than young women. There are no clear trends of suicide numbers in people aged under 25 and numbers are too small to be published
- In SNEE 53.7% out of 41 urgent eating disorder referrals started treatment within 1 week, and 57.9% of 178 routine referrals started treatment within 4 weeks (national ave. 68%)
- Healthwatch Suffolk research found nearly a quarter (24%) of students with a mental health diagnosis said they self-harm
- Healthwatch Suffolk research found that one in five students indicated that they had felt loved rarely or none of the time
Data about Vulnerable Young People
The Children’s Society estimate there are 800,000 young carers aged 5-17 care for an adult or family member in the UK
To claim Carer’s Allowance the customer has to be aged 16 or over. There are 60 under 18 year olds in Essex and 23 in Suffolk that were entitled to Carer’s Allowance in Q4 of 21/22
Unaccompanied asylum seekers – (7%) in Care in Suffolk were unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. These children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
- Children in Need (assessed as needing help and protection as a result of risks to their development or health) – One in 10 pupils in England (2019/20) had been a child in need in the last 6 years
- In 20/21 the rate of children in need episodes during the financial year, per 10,000 children was 280.8 for Essex and 467.7 for Suffolk
- Poverty – both Tendring (23.3%) and Ipswich (17.9%) have higher proportions of children living in low income families than England ave. (17%)
- Free school meals – In 2020/21, 19.3% of primary school pupils in Suffolk (10,969 pupils) were eligible for free school meals. lower than England (21.6%
Data about Looked After Children
- Looked after children may be living with foster parents, in a residential children’s home or living in residential settings like schools or secure units.
- A child stops being looked after when they are adopted, return home or turn 18. There is a requirement for Local Authorities to required to support children leaving care at 18 until they are at least 21
- Certain groups of children are more likely to be in care than others – more males and more who are black or of mixed ethnicity
- The majority of looked after children are in care because of abuse or neglect – 63% of looked after children were looked after due to abuse or neglect in 2018/19, 14% family dysfunction, 8% family in acute stress, 3% child’s disability and 3% parent’s illness or disability, and 1% socially unacceptable behaviour
- Almost a third of children leave care to return to their family – 18 % Move into independent/supported living arrangement, 17 % go into the care of former foster/kinship carers and 12% are adopted
- In 2020/21 there were 1079 looked after children in Essex (34 per 10,000 population) and 947 in Suffolk (62 per 10,000 population)
Source: https://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Silent-Crisis-PDF.pdf Department of Education, Children Looked After in England, 2017; Outcomes for children looked after, 2017; Bazalgette.L et. Al, 2015
- Children in care and those leaving care face a variety of poorer outcomes compared to their peers
- These outcomes follow children to adult life – e.g. almost 25% of the adult prison population has previously been in care, and children who have been in care reoffend at roughly twice the rate of children who have never been looked after
- The majority of LAC experience more positive outcomes than they would have if there were not taken into care
Education and Transition Data
- Attainment 8 is a measure published annually showing the average academic performance. It is calculated by adding together pupils’ highest scores across eight government approved school subjects.
- The Average Attainment 8 score 2020/21 (academic) for pupils in Essex was 50.4, for Suffolk 48.8
- For Looked After Children in the same period, it was 21.6 in Essex and 22.1 in Suffolk
- There is a higher prevalence of Special Educational Needs amongst looked after children and children in need, which in part explains the difference in attainment compared to all pupils.
Young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) are at greater risk of a range of negative outcomes including;
- poor health,
- early parenthood.
Numbers of 16-17 year olds NEET are 4.3% in Essex and have reduced in Suffolk over the last 5 years and are now at 5% (down from 7.5% in 2016)
The Story Behind the Outcome
Mental Health Crisis
Being more health literate
Supporting a child with eating disorder
|“I’ve had trouble my daughter in the past with her mental health, the NHS were absolutely hopeless. But I already know that the mental health issues with the NHS at the moment are absolutely dire. But their way of dealing with things were just completely unacceptable. Basically, you know she was suffering she was making herself sick, she was having to come and be weighed every time. They said to her ‘you don’t need to see you weight do you?’ she didn’t want see her weight but they wrote it down in big black letters and numbers so she could see what she was weighing. And the last thing you want to do with somebody with anorexia is to actually show them how much weight they’re putting on. And just because, actually we had half term, and she was at home. And I was actually having to sit and physically watch her every time she ate, every time she went to the toilet, she put weight on and not a lot of weight a little bit of weight. They then went and said, ‘No you’re fine we can’t do anymore for you.’ I’m sorry they need to be actually looking at the bigger picture why she was in the position she was in, what problems she was actually having, not actually dealing with the fact that she’s got an eating problem. But… there’s so much that could be done.”|
Risks to Young People
- Road traffic accidents as pedestrians, cyclists or young drivers – strong road safety laws and enforcing laws prohibiting drink or drug driving.
- Drowning – teaching swimming is vital.
- interpersonal violence, including sexual violence and bullying – prevention support in schools, life skills programmes, limiting access to alcohol and weapons, and empathetic care for survivors.
- Mental health including depression and suicide – psychosocial and resilience support for young people, strengthening relationships with parents, good quality home environments, and prompt intervention when problems arise.
- Alcohol, tobacco drug use – public health prevention with young people, families and communities, and to limit access.
- Sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS – information for young people on prevention, testing and counselling.
- Early pregnancy and childbirth – comprehensive education, access to contraception and high quality maternity care.
- Nutrition and activity – access to healthy food, iron supplements where needed, and access to exercise that builds cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness and bone health.
Mental Health and Social Media
I come from the starting point that … the digital world provides a range of positive experiences, from learning to connecting people. However, none of the platforms regularly used by vast numbers of children were designed or developed with children in mind, and for some children this is proving harmful…
Over the last few years, I have had dialogue with many of the big social media companies… I have been reassured time and time again that this is an issue taken seriously. However, I believe that there is still a failure to engage and that children remain an afterthought.
The recent tragic cases of young people who had accessed and drawn from sites that post deeply troubling content around suicide and self-harm, and who in the end took their own lives, should be a moment of reflection. I would appeal to you to accept there are problems and to commit to tackling them – or admit publicly that you are unable to.
I have … called for companies like yourselves to be bound by a statutory duty of care, a legal obligation to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children using your platforms.
With great power comes great responsibility, and it is your responsibility to support measures that give children the information and tools they need growing up in this digital world – or to admit that you cannot control what anyone sees on your platforms.
- The measuring tape of risk – To find out where on the scale you sit and how risky a situation might be on the tape.
- The prioritisation multi-tool – Buy a few of these multitools and replace them as your priorities change.
- The relationship screwdriver – When you screw it in, you screw the screw really tight and it makes that connection strong. It’s also about what screw end you need in order to screw it in as well as you can. Be able to change or adapt or know what you need in order to be able to screw it in as tight as possible.
- The self-worth weight – If you have good self-worth, you’re not gonna end up lowering what you’re worth for others.
- The torch of optimism – Keeping optimistic, looking ahead, fighting through
- The red tape scissors – Cut all the red-tape, bureaucracy and challenges and cut through.
- The Swiss army knife of boundaries – The Swiss army knife gives you different ones for
different things, for different people. Learning your boundaries and keeping them is one
of the most important tools you could have in your kit.
- Picture hooks of memories – A set of picture hooks so you can hang up your picture
and remember the good bits and the things you want to remember, learn from or
- A very small proportion of young people enter the youth justice system – less than 1% of 10-17 year olds.
- However violent offences make up 50% of proven offences, most against other young people but also against adults eg older boys’ violence towards single mothers, which worsened during the pandemic.
- Youth Offending Teams’ approach is ‘child first, offender second’, but the safety of
others is an issue – many young offenders pose a risk to others – 85% of children sentenced to a court order were assessed as presenting some form of risk to others, and 29% were considered to present a high or very high risk of harm.
- Reoffending rates are falling but remain high, at 38.5% in 2019.
- Ethnic minority young people are over-represented – 50% of
those in youth custody were from minority ethnicities despite
making up only 18% of the youth population.
- 9% more potential child victims referred compared with the previous year (from 5,028 to 5,468)
- Of the decisions that there were reasonable ground the child was a victim, boys were most likely to have been criminally exploited (62%) while girls were most likely to have been sexually exploited (42%)
- Over four-fifths (82%) of children who received a positive RGD were aged 15 to 17 years
- 27% (to 3,239) more modern slavery offences involving a child victim recorded by the police in England and Wales.
Child sexual exploitation: coercion into sexual activity using the vulnerability of youth. Impacts can include:
- low self esteem, worthlessness, and fears about being believed or judged
- misplaced loyalty to the offender
- threats to the young person or their family, or placing other young people in the family at risk
Criminal exploitation: where a child is manipulated or coerced into criminal activity for the benefit of an abusive adult or peer. Risks to a child or young person, and their family and friends, as a result of experiencing criminal exploitation can include:
- Debt bondage
- Neglect, basic needs not being met, being placed in unclean, dangerous environments by exploiters
- Tiredness and sleep deprivation, where activities must be carried out over long periods and overnight
Both can lead to missing education, criminal records, and long term trauma, physical or mental health problems. (PACE)
Achieving a successful move into adulthood
Skills and qualifications: ‘How right my skills are for the career I want’ Educational level is important to later health outcomes, though the implications of a skills mismatch between young people’s achievements and employers’ demands are less clear.
Personal connections: ‘The confidence and connections to navigate the adult world’ Social networks, personal connections and neighbourhood resources are important, as is social capital, in improving health outcomes.
Financial and practical support: ‘Having the support to achieve what I want from life’ Financial and practical assistance do improve education outcomes and socio-economic status for young people, but research on the direct impact on their health outcomes in early adulthood is limited.
Emotional support: ‘People I can lean on emotionally’ Friends, family and romantic partners are critically important to young people’s sense of wellbeing and connectedness. However, most of the research is set within the context of mental health problems, development of self-esteem, identity development and the role of peers in helping each other to manage situations such as college. There is little research on how emotional support can help emerging adults achieve their life goals or lead to better health outcomes.
Transition from child to adult health & care services
The House of Commons Select Committee on Education highlighted that those reaching 18 in foster care can access Staying Put so they can stay with their carers, but those in children’s homes do not have the same right.
The Committee recommends rolling out the Staying Close pilot programme for young people leaving residential care, which offers suitable move-on accommodation close to their previous children’s home.
BEAT has made recommendations for providers to better support those transitioning between child and adult services, or between healthcare providers, where gaps or delays in support can lead to relapse:
- Best practice in communication and information, and joint planning between services
- A flexible transition process prioritising the needs of the patient rather than service protocols.
- The patient stays under the active care of a specialist eating disorder service throughout transition.
- For university students, the patient has access to appropriate support at home and at university, ensuring medical records are appropriately shared between the involved healthcare services.
Healthwatch Essex published a qualitative study in May 2022, listening to young people with lived experience of the transition from child to adult services.
Communication: the young person and their carers feeling fully informed about timescales, practicalities and implications in changes to their support.
Timeliness: preparation to allow the young person time to get used to the concept, ask questions and to end their relationship with child service providers appropriately. Time for discussion, questions and adjustment.
Joined up approach: one agency may have executed the transition for a young person well, but a tandem multi-agency approach is needed to give the young person the best experience.
Aron was happy people “spoke to him as an adult”… he is confident that it’s “right to move on now” and wants “adult treatment as an adult.”
“We want help not a battle of trying to be heard so we can get the right consistent support… The current system is a failure and is continuing to fail our families.”
Kelsey (mother of disabled daughter)
References & Further Reading
Our Natural Alternative Provision & Inclusion Programme is designed for children and young people from primary age and above, that may be struggling in mainstream education, providing the perfect space for personal growth.
What we know matters and why
|I can develop, learn and grow healthily||I have the right to develop to my full physical, emotional, social and educational potential. |
Identifying my health and care needs early enables access to the right care and support to achieve good health and wellbeing.
|I am safe and well cared for, and I am supported in becoming an independent adult||Good parenting, sensitive care and support means I am safe, well and happy, now and as an adult.|
Having good skills, positive relationships, and practical and emotional support enables me to have good health and wellbeing and better life chances.
Continuity of support and a smooth transition to receiving adult health and care services means I have a good quality of life as I reach adulthood.
|I know how to look after myself||Understanding risks and how to keep safe physically, emotionally, sexually and online means I can prevent harm and stay well.|
|I am treated as an individual||Treating me and my family with dignity and respect, recognising my culture, characteristics and life circumstances, means my care and support is inclusive, sensitive and responsive to my needs.|
|I am seen and heard||Listening to me and giving me choice and control means that people understand and respond to the issues that are most important to me.|
How will things be different in Suffolk and North East Essex
|We will take time to listen to young people, communicate using language that is meaningful to them.||We will communicate and work together well to ensure no young person transitioning from children to adult health and care services is left without care and support,and has choice and control over their future.|
|We will be curious, open and honest, involving children and their families as equal partners in all aspects of their care and development.||We will collaborate across health, social care, education, public health, communities and businesses to equip young people with the skills, knowledge and aspirations to achieve their full potential.|
|We will co-produce ways that enable young people to grow up safely and well with their family, and enable care experienced young adults to stay with or close to their support networks wherever possible.||We will co-produce high quality trauma-informed health and care services to support children and their families.|
|We will support young people to manage the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on their health and development.||We will support children and families to maintain their health and wellbeing before, while waiting for, during and after treatment to help them stay well and recover well.|