NSPCC reports rise in calls on child neglect

NSPCC helpline receives 61 per cent increase in calls about neglect since 2011-12

Published on 28th August 2017

The most common reason that contacts were made to the NSPCC helpline was concerning neglect, the children’s charity has revealed.

There were 19,448 contacts to the helpline about neglect in 2016-17 which represents a rise of 61 per cent increase from five years ago, when there were 12,110 contacts about neglect in 2011/12.

In total there were 66,218 contacts made to the NSPCC helpline in 2016/17. The number of contacts increased this year after a decrease in 2015/16 although prior to this the helpline saw a five-year increase in the number of contacts.

The charity attributes this increased demand to media attention this year, particularly around allegations of abuse in football.

The How Safe Are Our Children report found that this year, where the information was recorded, 59 per cent of contacts made to the helpline were from the public. Of these contacts, 81 per cent were serious enough to warrant a referral to an external agency.

There has been a steady increase in members of the public contacting the helpline to seek advice or report a concern about the welfare of a child, the report adds with contacts increasing by 79 per cent since 2007/08.

There has been an increase in contacts to the NSPCC helpline about abuse over the past nine years. The most significant increases in abuse contacts in 2016/17 were in sexual abuse, which increased by 23 per cent since 2015/16, and emotional abuse, which increased by 41 per cent.

“As a society we often talk about physical and sexual abuse, but evidence shows that the impact of emotional abuse or neglect can have at least as significant an impact on children,” said the report.

In fact, in recent years there has been an increase in emotional abuse as a reason for a child being on a child protection plan or register in England (up from 23 per cent of all plans in 2006 to 35 per cent in 2016) and Wales (up from 19 per cent of all children on a register in 2006 to 34 per cent in 2016).

However, the increase in the number of children on child protection plans and registers for emotional abuse in England and Wales could reflect increased awareness of the importance of stepping in in these cases, says the NSPCC, both by professionals and the public.

The number of times members of the public contacted the NSPCC helpline about emotional abuse increased from 5,878 contacts in 2011/12 to 10,009 in 2016/17. This is a 70 per cent increase in the last five years, the largest increase of any abuse type, the charity warns.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, warned that the increased readiness by adults to report abuse is yet to be translated into justice for child victims. “The process of bringing perpetrators to court and securing a prosecution is woeful. An urgent reform is needed so that children can get the right support and give evidence away from court.”

He added that it is not enough to simply know the numbers of reported cases of children being abused or neglected – and there is a need to understand the full scale of child maltreatment. “If we don’t know the true extent of abuse and neglect, we don’t know how many more children we need to reach. That’s why there’s an urgent need for the UK government to commission a new nationwide study that looks at the prevalence of all forms of abuse and neglect,” he said, adding that the last study of this kind was conducted by the NSPCC in 2009 – “when the world was quite different and far less online abuse was reported”.

“The UK government to step in now, before another eight years go by, and commission a study that gives us the clearest possible picture of the extent of child abuse and neglect in the UK – including online abuse. This study will arm us with the right knowledge to help everyone play their part in keeping children safe: because every childhood is worth fighting for,” he concluded.

How safe are our children 2017?



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