#IXD303 – Vulnerability in Children Research

While coming together and engaging in collaborative research sessions, a topic that we all discussed more than once was vulnerability in children. Additionally, much of my research into the implementation of technology in healthcare seamlessly scaved the direction that could benefit children/young people who are in need. However, further information was to be done to see if this could be a possible direction that I could take my healthcare idea.

Before I start to delve into this area, I set out 5 key questions to determine whether this is a strong area to focus on. I jotted four key questions down on sticky notes to begin my research into this subject.

  1. What are the risks that children/young people face in today’s world?
  2. Can children seek help for these problems?
  3. How can I ensure this area has a strong basis?
  4. How can I tie this back to my initial group research?

What do I mean by vulnerable children?

While the definition may be broad, vulnerable children are defined as any children/young person who is significantly more at risk of experiencing physical or emotional harm through one or more factors in their lives.

Today’s Risks with Children

Social Media

With the surge in the tech-savvy younger generation, the need for social media is increasing and can have a significant impact on the lives of young people. There are concerns about how it can impact self-perception and privacy. Social media can be extremely unrealistic and set standards higher making young people feel like they aren’t good enough and creating negative implications in how many teens see themselves such as their body image. Young people can be exposed to violent and inappropriate content which can affect how they see others and put a strain on maintaining positive relationships. Additionally, this can also be an instigator of a bullying epidemic that many young people face online.

  • Body Images
  • Bullying
  • Violent & inappropriate content
  • Strain in relationships


A study conducted in 2016 showed that around 1.7 million families were living under the poverty line in England. Economic disadvantages have often correlated with poorer health standards and negative psychological balances. Additionally, this can affect the child’s education with many failing to achieve standard marks. Additionally, there is more coloration with poverty and anti-social/criminal behavior experienced in kids, this can ultimately influence them in the wrong direction as they physically and mentally grow.

  • Poorer health standards
  • Economic disadvantages
  • Anti-Social behavior
  • Educational and social hindrances


Many problems with children start with the household, cases of domestic and verbal abuse from parents can create a profound impact on the child’s well-being. Often many of the parent’s or families’ attitudes such as mental health problems or substance/alcohol misuse are reflected onto the child creating a higher probability that that child contains negative implications. Additionally, if a child is suffering from a mental disorder such as autism or PTSD some parents may fail to register the seriousness or lack guidance on where to receive help, this can prologue and amplify the child’s situation.

Children in care

England bolsters a population of 12 million children, however, 3 percent of this 12 million (400,000) are situated in a social care system, with more than 75,000 young people being based in care. There is an overwelling correlation between people in care and childhood vulnerabilities. Children in care are more at risk of mental health problems and have a less likely hood of establishing a beneficial life when they get older. Additionally, studies have shown that children of all ages in care are less likely to have lower educational attainment.

Support for Vulnerable Children

Parentline NI

This is just one of a large number of regional support helplines for both parents and carers which offers guidance and advice to parents who are struggling with their children. The project supports parents’ perinatal mental health and wellbeing by providing access to services that parents feel meet their needs appropriately.

It runs a variety of different courses such as the family wellness project which helps marginalize early mental health situations in children aged 5- 12 and their families. It helps children aged 5-12 who are at risk of developing mental health issues. Additionally, this project adopts a holistic person and family-centered approach which helps parents/families better understand their children’s behavior and diminish and stigma that comes along with these situations.

  • Helps listen to parent’s frustrations
  • Sets up programs and workshops for parents
  • Promotes relationship-building exercises
  • Focus on the parent to child
  • Offers family support services
  • Helps parental participation
  • Offers training for professionals working with parents and families

Childcare Programs

There are a variety of different programs that help children develop, many of these programs specialise in an individual role of a child’s development or problem.

Child Psychotherpapist

Child psychotherapists establish a defined and strong relationship with their clients to help assess and treat any underlying conditions that a child might be suffering from. This involves having short-term and long-term interventions with children that can help monitor their situation.


Counselors help listen to their clients, offering empathy and a place to talk about individual problems so they can help manage and focus on making positive changes in their lives. Common problems that counselors cover are divorce, illness, and bereavement and anxiety.

Family Support Worker

Family support workers provide emotional support to families experiencing problems. They focus on providing close-quartered support to families and addressing problems and risks.

Play Therapist

Play therapists are therapists that help children express themselves through the art of visual interpretation. This often means various physical and creative activities that help children be themselves and allow therapists to understand them.

Social Worker

Social workers help support individuals and families through hard times. They ensure vulnerable children (or people) are safeguarded from harm or negative situations. These are typically conducted through schools, hospitals or any public sector.

Youth Worker

Youth workers help establish and maintain a solid relationship with their clients. They help understand young people’s values and beliefs whilst building their confidence and life skills so they can have a better chance of avoiding negative experiences while growing up.

Gathering the Info

I have created three miro boards below to show both that segregate and organize the individual, household and social risks that can create vulnerability in children, I also highlight how these challenges are tackled by themselves, their family, or society.

Mental implications on Children & The Facts – A Quantitative Study

Through various factors explained above, this can have a profound impact on children’s mental development, in this area of their life children are rapidly changing both physical and mental states, many of the mental implications of vulnerability in children can be seen below:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • development delay
  • phobias
  • aggression
  • gender dysphoria
  • consequences of child abuse
  • self-harming
  • learning difficulties and disabilities
  • eating disorders
  • psychosomatic disorders.

10% of children aged 5-16 have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, additionally, 70 % of children and young adults who experience mental issues have had nonearly age interventions.


  • One in six school-age children suffer mental health problems (previously from one in nine in 2009)
  • People who experience trouble with their identity have higher rates of mental health disorders.
  • Children with disabilities are 3x more likely to possess poor mental health.
  • 28% of children and young people who experience a learning diffculty and mental problems are in contact with mental health services

How can we serve technology to benefit vulnerable children?

While this term is broad, additionally, many features can be combined to create an even more profound evaluation of children’s mental health through technology. Below I have created a mindmap on miro to show how we can implement technology (both hardware and software) to help children suffering from mental health disorders/vulnerabilities.


















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