Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have been linked to negative outcomes for adult behavioural, physical and mental health. There is limited research into the prevalence of ACEs experienced by children and young people in the children and young people secure estate, and specifically, a lack of research into England’s secure children’s homes (SCH) population.
To explore the reported prevalence of ACEs experienced by young people admitted to an SCH in the North of England between January 2018 and March 2020.
A retrospective file review was used to explore ACEs experienced by young people. Data was collated for a convenience sample of 58 young people. Descriptive analysis was completed.
81.1 % of the sample yielded an ACE score of ≥ 4. The average ACE score was 5.55, and the most common ACEs experienced by the sample were exposure to parental separation, physical neglect and emotional abuse. Females were significantly more likely to have experienced sexual abuse and emotional neglect. Children and young people entering the secure estate were 1.85 times as likely to have experienced ≥ 1 ACE and 13.08 times as likely to have experienced ≥ 4 ACEs compared to the general population.
This unique population are likely to have experienced multiple and significant developmental trauma. These findings spotlight the vulnerabilities and complex needs of the SCH population, and have implications both for the young people’s physical and mental health trajectories and for policies and care approaches within SCHs. Study limitations are discussed, along with recommendations for future research.