The NSPCC is contacted an average of 55 times a day by adults worried about neglect, the charity’s latest figures reveal.
- Over 36,000 children left to face risk of abuse or neglect
- Thousands of babies at risk of 'severe harm'
In 2017-18 the NSPCC Helpline, a service run by child protection professionals including social workers, teachers and health specialists, handled nearly 20,000 calls about child neglect, a third of all contacts to the NSPCC.
Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of neglect reports were serious enough to be referred to children services and the police for further investigation, the charity said.
Hundreds of the calls relating to child neglect made to the NSPCC Helpline were received over the 12 days of Christmas, leading the charity to launch its ‘Light for Every Childhood’ Christmas appeal.
The appeal calls for donations to the NSPCC Helpline to help the charity answer more calls both at Christmas and during the rest of the year.
This week, London landmarks including the London Eye, County Hall and Battersea Power Station have been illuminated in the charity’s trademark green colour to raise awareness of the appeal.
Child neglect can happen as the result of a range of factors, including parents not having skills, support or funds, or as a result of mental health issues, and can cause deep-rooted and lifelong physical and psychological harm for a child, according to the NSPCC. At its worst, neglect can lead to a child suffering permanent disabilities, or prove fatal.
The charity said common signs of child neglect can include:
- Poor appearance and hygiene, unwashed clothes
- Living in an unsuitable home environment, for example dog mess being left or not having any heating
- Left alone for a long time
- Untreated injuries, medical and dental issues; children may have skin sores, rashes, flea bites, scabies or ringworm
- Poor language, communication or social skills
- Seem hungry or turn up to school without having breakfast or any lunch money
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said, ‘Neglect doesn’t stop because it is Christmas, the holidays can in fact magnify problems because children are cut off from the wider community and their support network.
‘While it is positive that people are being vigilant and reporting concerns of children suffering neglect rather than standing by, it is still deeply worrying to see that neglect continues to be the most common reason for contacting the NSPCC Helpline.
‘This is why we are appealing to the generous nature of the public to support our Light For Every Childhood Christmas Appeal to help us be there for even more young people in need.’