‘Toxic trio’ affecting more than a million children in the UK

‘Toxic trio’ affecting more than a million children in the UK

One-in-five children live amongst violence, mental illness, and drink and drug abuse, data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveals, equaling almost a million children affected by this so-called ‘toxic trio’ of problems.

Children living in such households are a third more likely to become victims of crime, to take drugs or become involved in knife crime, the ONS said, and are also more likely to have been bullied, with around one-third of children in homes with a mentally unwell adult or domestic violence having been bullied in the past year.

Living with the presence of the toxic trio was more likely to put children at risk of becoming a perpetrator of damaging or criminal behaviour themselves and around one child in 12 living with a parent who abuses drugs or alcohol knows someone who carries a knife.

Concerning statistics that are likely to have increased in lockdown, due to closed licensed premises and the pressures of lockdown life in general. The data was collected by the Crime Survey for England and Wales between March 2017 and March 2019, and based on interviews with adults and children aged between 10 and 15 living in the same home.  

Sophie Sanders, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said the data had been gathered in response to calls for more evidence about the impact of the three risk factors on children’s lives.

She said, ‘the research suggests that the presence of one or more of these issues could make children more vulnerable to victimisation and more likely to engage in negative behaviours.’

But she urged caution when interpreting the figures, pointing out that the majority of children living with one or more of the toxic trio did not report victimisation or negative behaviours in the previous 12 months.

Children’s charity the NSPCC urged the Government to take the data into consideration as the country undergoes another lockdown.

The NSPCC’s Abigail Gill, Policy Manager, said: ‘We know that these factors have a concerning impact on young lives and these statistics show that they are also more likely to be a victim of crime.’

She added: ‘It’s vital that the Government puts plans in place to support families as the crisis continues, while services in the community for victims of domestic abuse should be enshrined into law in the Domestic Abuse Bill.’

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