‘Troubled families’ cause endemic child abuse

By Georgie Keate

Sexual abuse and welfare dependency is entrenched through generations of families, a report has revealed.

Louise Casey, David Cameron's troubled families tsar, has established that household violence like sexual abuse, truancy, police call-outs and teenage pregnancies is passed down through the generations.

"The prevalence of child sexual and physical abuse and sometimes child rape was striking and shocking," the report said.

"It became clear that in many of these families the abuse of children by in many cases parents, siblings, half-siblings and extended family and friends was a factor in their dysfunction."

Casey has strongly advised the government to introduce one-on-one support for the most dysfunctional families by paying local authorities up to £4,000 per family to reduce youth crime, truancy and anti-social behaviour.

The report compiled 16 case studies and depicted "entrenched cycles of suffering" which poison whole social networks.

"We are talking about generation after generation of things like abuse and violence that then beget another generation of teenage mothers, that then get in with the wrong types of fellas, who then are violent, who then bring up more children and then, hey presto, they say it all started out with our Johnny when he was eight," Casey told the Today programme.

Casey's troubled families programme has a £448 million budget which is drawn from seven departments in an attempt to join up local services.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: "I welcome this report as an important part of that process as it provides a real insight into these families' dysfunctional lives.

"My civil servants are not just sitting in an office in Whitehall telling local authorities what to do but seeking to gain a true understanding of the challenges they face."

On the Today programme, Casey admitted some families costing up to £200,000 a year but defended the funding saying it was designed to "give councils a chance" to deal with the problem.