Dramatic Rise In Emotional Abuse Cases

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is experiencing a surge in the number of emotional neglect and emotional abuse cases, including those so serious they require onward referral to the police and children's services.

The charity's anonymous helpline supports and offers advice to adults who are worried about a child, is referring nearly 50 per cent more emotional neglect and abuse cases on to statutory services compared to last year.

Helpline staff have assisted over 8000 people who have contacted the NSPCC about emotional neglect and abuse this year (2013/14) - 5354 of these cases were so serious they have been referred to local authorities for further action compared to 3629 last year (2012/13).

The charity also revealed that helpline practitioners, who listen to people's child welfare concerns and can take action on their behalf, are being contacted by more people than ever before. Over 60,000 people have been offered help and support by the helpline this year which is an increase of 21 per cent compared to last year.

The figures come as the government considers a change to the law to tackle the emotional neglect and abuse of children. The so called "Cinderella law" would update the 1933 criminal offence of child cruelty to include emotional neglect and abuse as well as physical abuse.

John Cameron, Head of Child Protection Operations, said:

"Emotional neglect and abuse cause real harm to children and we are supporting more people than ever before who want a safe, non-judgemental place in which to talk through their concerns.

"As a result of this we are able to recognise the most serious cases and are referring an unprecedented number of emotional neglect and abuse cases to children's services and the police.

"The government has indicated they are set to outlaw extreme emotional cruelty and this is a positive step forward and the publicity around this and highly publicised cases such as Daniel Pelka may have contributed to the sharp increase in calls.

"We must recognise extreme emotional abuse for what it is - a crime - and those who carry it out should be prosecuted. This isn't about prosecuting parents who don't buy their children the latest gadgets or trainers this is about parents who consistently deny their children love and affection.

"We must ensure we support children's services and that the police are given better powers to prosecute those who subject children to emotional neglect and abuse - that is why the NSPCC supports the proposed changes to the law to tackle this issue. But a law alone is not enough - what we really need to do is work together to prevent this abuse happening in the first place."


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