WAVE Trust

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WAVE Trust (Worldwide Alternatives to ViolencE) was formed in 1996 and registered as an international educational charity with the Charity Commission for England and Wales[1] under Number 1080189 in 1999. The charity is dedicated to reducing the key root causes of interpersonal violence: child neglect and maltreatment. The method used is a business strategy approach to identify and then tackle these problems at root cause level. Despite the name, WAVE's work does not appear to be 'worldwide' in any substantive sense: it has no lasting presence in any country outside the UK and its international reach does not appear to extend beyond participation in a few seminars.

WAVE's fundamental message is that most family violence and maltreatment can be prevented by known, economically viable programmes to break damaging family cycles. They say their research identifies and actively promotes UK adoption of global best practice methods and programmes to address violence, e.g. the Nurse-Family Partnership.[2]

WAVE also says extensive research highlights the crucial nature of experience from conception to age 3 in the formation of seriously violent personalities, largely because of the sensitive nature of the infant brain during these formative years. Research also identifies two important early conditions as antidotes to the development of violent personalities: attunement between carers and babies, and the development of empathy in the child.[3]

Strategies to reduce violence and child abuse[edit]

  • Identify the root causes of child abuse and violence.
  • Find the most effective methods known to address these root causes.
  • Promote the adoption of these proven methods.

WAVE cites the research finding that between birth and age 3 the synapses (or connections) in the infant brain multiply 20 fold, and develop 85% of the human brain (and that 95% of the brain is developed by age 4). This speed of development causes the brain to be acutely sensitive to environmental experience during the first 3 years of life.

The charity's reports and articles particularly emphasise the importance of warm, nurturing, loving parenting in the first 18 months of life when the emotional brain is largely created, and juxtaposes this with statistics showing that age 0-1 is the peak age for physical abuse in the UK. The people most likely to die a violent death are babies under 1 year old, who are four times more likely to be killed than the average person in England and Wales.[4]

Although there are many causes of violence, WAVE's research conclusion is that child abuse, neglect and witnessing domestic violence are fundamental contributors to later antisocial, aggressive or violent behaviour because:

  • Patterns of behaviour are adopted very early in life. Many children who are abused or neglected learn that the world is a cruel place and act accordingly.
  • Antisocial behaviour is difficult to change – once adopted, this character trait is strong and often leads to adult violence.
  • This pattern of violence is then repeated within the family as the antisocial / aggressive adults go on to raise their own children.

Key recommendations[edit]

  • Implement a focused primary prevention strategy (i.e. intervening before rather than after damage takes place) for at-risk children aged 0–3
  • Set up a National Early Prevention Agency to co-ordinate, fund and drive a strategy to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences.[5]
  • No child should leave school without receiving fundamental training in how to 'attune' with babies and to parent in a non-violent manner. An example of a programme to do this is Roots of Empathy.[6]
  • During a first pregnancy, every mother- and father-to-be should receive supportive coaching on how to 'attune' with babies, how to ensure the child's successful emotional development and how to parent in a non-violent manner. An example of this type of support is offered by the programme First Steps in Parenting.
  • Babies in at-risk families should be monitored during their first three years, with the parents receiving regular visits by specially trained Health Visitors who provide practical encouragement and support e.g. Nurse Family Partnership.
  • Violent individuals entering legal/prison systems, whether adults or children, should be assessed for Posttraumatic stress disorder and, if diagnosed, steps taken to heal the condition.[7]


WAVE works with police, government departments, academics and other voluntary organisations to improve understanding of the most effective strategies and policies for reducing violence and child maltreatment. The charity also delivers therapeutic programmes for violent offenders in prison and after release. In 2008 WAVE cooperated with the Centre for Social Justice and the Smith Institute to write and publish the booklet Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens.[8] This publication calls on all political parties to unite around a long-term commitment to the policy of Early Intervention.

Concerned about the lack of measurable reductions in child maltreatment in the UK over the previous 70 years, in 2009 WAVE created a '70/30' strategy to reduce child maltreatment and other Adverse Childhood Experiences by 70% by 2030. This strategy is backed by a number of UK academics, politicians, think tanks and other charities. In 2010, the Liberal Democrats pledged support for WAVE's 70/30 strategy in their pre-election manifesto.[9]

At present[when?], 165 Members of Parliament and 63 Members of the Scottish Parliament have given their backing to the 70/30 Campaign.


WAVE's funding comes from national and local government bodies, police forces, foundations and trusts, as well as donations from private individuals.

Not just violence[edit]

WAVE's more recent research, following the publication of Violence and what to do about it, shows that child maltreatment also underlies subsequent problems with mental health, physical health, educational performance, wealth generation and antisocial behaviour.[10]

WAVE has developed a comprehensive, cutting edge primary preventive action plan currently being tested in Pioneer Communities in selected areas of the UK to prove that primary prevention saves lives and saves public money.

Organisation structure[edit]

WAVE Trust supporters and staff include:


Strategic advisers[edit]

  • Sir Christopher Ball, formerly Warden of Keble College, Oxford and Chancellor of the University of Derby
  • Sir Richard Bowlby (son of John Bowlby) specialises in the impact of early attachment relationships between parents and their young children
  • Professor Edward Melhuish Professor of Human Development at the University of Oxford as well as Birkbeck College

Chair of Trustees[edit]

  • Derrick Anderson, CBE, Former Chief Executive of Lambeth Council

Senior Officers[edit]

  • George Hosking, OBE[15], founder and Chief Executive Officer, economist, psychologist and clinical criminologist
  • Ita Walsh, Director of Operations[16] former Trustee, author of WAVE reports Violence and what to do about it, Working together to reduce serious youth violence and Age 2-18 - Systems to protect children from severe disadvantage
  • Anthoulla Koutsoudi, Company Secretary, Director of External Relations and Fundraiser[17]
  • Paula Doherty, Former Charity CEO and local authority expert on targeted services including domestic violence and Troubled Families


  • Mr Derrick Anderson CBE
  • Dr Caroline Clark
  • Mr Nicholas Essex
  • Insp Jack Rowlands
  • Mr David Stead
  • Mrs Susan Clifford MBE
  • Mr Colin Sarr

Key publications[edit]

Age 2-18 - Systems to protect children from severe disadavantage

Conception to age 2- the age of opportunity - Dept for Educ/WAVE Trust -2013

Building Great Britons - 2014 (Produced by WAVE in its role as joint secretariat of The First 1001 days All Party Parliamentary Group)

WAVE REPORT 2010: International experience of early intervention for children, young people and their families

Commissioned by C4EO to conduct this review which also formed the basis for their report 'Grasping the nettle: early intervention for children, families and communities'[18]

WAVE REPORT 2005: Violence and what to do about it

The culmination of the charity's first 9 years of research.

Working Together to Reduce Serious Youth Violence

Report on London Conference in November 2007.

Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens

WAVE-drafted 2008 joint party booklet.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Register Home Page". Charitycommission.gov.uk. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Nurse-Family Partnership – Helping First-Time Parents Succeed". Nurse-Family Partnership. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  3. ^ "The WAVE Report 2005: Violence and what to do about it" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Facts and figures about child abuse". NSPCC. Archived from the original on November 12, 2006.
  5. ^ as researched and reported by Vincent Felitti in the US: Felitti, V.J. & Anda, R.F. (2007). (i) The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Health, Well-being, Social Function, and Healthcare, and (ii) The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Medical Disease, Psychiatric Disorders, and Sexual Behavior: Implications for Healthcare in The Hidden Epidemic: The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease, Lanius/Vermetten, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  6. ^ "Roots of Empathy". Rootsofempathy.org. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  7. ^ "The WAVE Report 2005: Violence and what to do about it" (PDF).
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010". Issuu.com. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  10. ^ Felitti, Middlebrooks, Perry and Sinclair
  11. ^ "Baroness Joan Walmsley". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Iain Duncan Smith". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Baron Christopher Fox". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Baroness Hilary Armstrong". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Birthday Honours lists 2014". Honours. Government of the United Kingdom: HM Government. 14 June 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  16. ^ "Ita Walsh". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Anthoulla Koutsoudi". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2011-04-14.

External links[edit]