The number of children who died almost doubled in Brighton and Hove in the past year, according to an official report.
Fifteen deaths were reported in the year to the end of March, up from eight the year before.
The report, by the Brighton and Hove Local Safeguarding Children Board, said that eight of the deaths were investigated by the Child Death Overview Panel.
And the panel concluded in four cases that there were “modifiable factors” – steps that could be taken to reduce the risk of future deaths.
It recommended that the Local Safeguarding Children Board should
- support a public health campaign about the risks posed by cannabis and other drugs
- review the help for pregnant rough sleepers with drug problems
- help professionals to understand the risk that herpes presents to young babies
The report, which is being presented to Brighton and Hove City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board next week, said that 217 children were victims of serious sexual offences last year, including rape. And 667 more were victims of crime.
The number of children seeking help with their mental health went up, with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) opening 1,065 cases, up from 906 in 2017-18.
CAMHS referred 35 young people to the Sussex Children’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre.
The Local Safeguarding Children Board report said: “We continue to struggle with hearing the voice of the child and a number of initiatives have as yet not resulted in significant improvement for this area.
“We have continued seeking to engage with our hard-to-reach communities through community, voluntary sector and faith groups.”
The board helped to fund a newsletter called Safety Rocks, produced by the charity Safety Net, to give parents advice about child protection issues.
In the past year the termly newsletter was sent to all primary and secondary schools with a wide range of articles on issues such as “county lines” drug dealing, misuse of the tranquiliser Xanax, children’s mental health and wellbeing, different forms of abuse, online safety and local support services.
The board also co-hosted a Sussex-wide conference on supporting teenagers which looked at adolescent neglect, risk of suicide and responding to harm and abuse.
The report is due to be presented to the Health and Wellbeing Board at Hove Town Hall next Tuesday (12 November). The meeting is scheduled to start at 4pm and should be open to the public.