Child neglect on the rise, warns charity

Child cruelty and neglect cases are on the rise, a charity has warned, as cases recorded by police have gone up by 75 per cent in ten years.

The NSPCC’s annual child protection review – ‘How safe are our children?’ – show there were 8,506 offences involving parents or carers reported in 2014/15, compared to 4,855 in 2005/6.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said: “This rise in reported neglect is concerning and I will be investigating the reasons behind it in the coming months.

“Children who have been abused or neglected are often deeply traumatised and this can have a lasting and damaging effect into adulthood if they don’t get the right kind of mental health support needed to start rebuilding their lives.

“Our recent research into children’s mental health found many young people, some with life-threatening conditions, was unable to access a local mental health service or faced long waits.”

Authorities were contacted for several reasons, including children living in squalor, not being fed properly or at all, and being beaten.

The NSPCC’s campaign, It’s Time, calls for all child victims of abuse to be given therapy.

The charity’s helpline had 16,436 last year by adults warning of children who were suffering neglect. One 14-year-old boy told the charity’s ChildLine service: ‘I know it sounds disgusting but sometimes I feel like eating pet food because it’s all there is in the house. 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.

“I feel angry at my parents because they don’t seem to care how miserable it’s making me.

“If I ask them for anything they become really angry and hit me. Sometimes I feel like killing myself will be the only way out.”

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless 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. These levels of neglect simply do not belong to the 21st century.”

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell Turner Garrett in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010.