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NSPCC reports surge in child neglect cases

Children’s charity says child neglect cases recorded by police have risen dramatically in a decade.

Neglected Child

Child cruelty and neglect cases rose by 75 per cent in a decade, the NSPCC has warned.

Child neglect, which is a factor in 60% of serious case reviews and the main concern in 45% of child protection plans in England, rose by 75 per cent between 2005 and 2015, data compiled by the charity has found.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: “Neglect is the most common form of abuse in the UK and can wreak havoc on a child’s brain development, emotional well-being, ability to form relationships, and mental health.”

“These children are more likely to suffer from depression and post-traumatic disorder, and even suicidal thoughts. For some, neglect can be fatal.” He added.

The charity’s annual overview of child abuse and protection data, How safe are our children?, reveals that:

  • 8,506 child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in England in 2014-15
  • 4,855 child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in England in 2005-06

NSPCC warns that it is unclear why the figures have risen so dramatically, but suggests that greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be contributing factors.

The charity received more than 16,000 contacts to its helpline which included concerns from adults about children who were dirty, hungry, living in squalor or with parents who were drunk or who left their children to fend for themselves.

One 14-year-old boy told the NSPCC: “Sometimes I feel like eating pet food because it’s all there is in the house. But I just drink water to make me feel full up instead. My teacher has asked why I’m dressed in dirty clothes and why I never have any lunch money and I don’t know what to say. Sometimes I feel killing myself will be the only way out.”

Peter Wanless added; “These levels of neglect simply do not belong to the 21st century. Many of these lonely, frightened, children have to resort to desperate measures to survive after being left to fend for themselves and it shames our nation that these numbers are so high.”

“It's an unacceptable situation which must be remedied. And we can only do that by looking out for vulnerable children and making sure they are given the right support to prevent longer term damage to the lives of those who have survived the horror of such neglect and cruelty,” he concluded.

How safe are our children?, is available here.



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