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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-22153: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 13 March 2019

To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making in meeting its commitment in the Programme for Government to prevent adverse childhood experiences and reduce their negative impacts, and whether it plans to record or monitor the prevalence of these incidents.

Answered by: John Swinney 22 March 2019

The Scottish Government is progressing cross-government action and partnership working to prevent and mitigate adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). For example, we have expanded the Family Nurse Partnership across Scotland to support young first time mothers who are more likely to experience ACEs. We are helping children affected by parental imprisonment by providing
‎ £1.8 million to extend vital support for the families of prisoners between 2016-19 and parenting support is now delivered in all of Scotland’s public prisons. We are improving Joint Investigative Interviews to ensure that people carrying out interviews with children where abuse or other trauma is suspected work in an expert, trauma-informed way, and we are working to develop a ‘Barnahus’ approach to ensure that children who experience severe trauma receive the wrap around support and recovery services they need.

With Scottish Government funding, NHS Education for Scotland are implementing a three year national trauma training programme to support the Scottish workforce to better recognise and respond to children and adults with ACEs and trauma. Education Scotland are facilitating nurture and trauma-informed approaches in schools. We are also working with NHS Health Scotland to raise awareness of ACEs across sectors and support community responses to ACEs.

As part of the long-standing national approach of Getting it right for every child, the Scottish Government are currently developing further guidance to support good record keeping practice and effective use of chronologies to better understand evolving circumstances in a child’s life.

In terms of prevalence, the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) longitudinal study tracks the lives of representative samples of children and their families from birth and has collected information on the experience of adversity in childhood. It also asks parents about their own adverse childhood experiences to explore associations with resilience and parenting and the intergenerational transmission of ACEs.

In addition, the new Health and Wellbeing Census (expected to be operational from 2020) will replace several school-based surveys and will ask a range of questions about childhood adversities, appropriate for the age and stage of the pupil. We have also incorporated ACEs questions into the 2019 Scottish Health Survey to establish the prevalence of ACEs amongst the Scottish adult population and the links with health outcomes and behaviours.