Reports of child neglect on the rise

There has been an increase on child neglect reports to the NSPCC. PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL
There has been an increase on child neglect reports to the NSPCC. PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL

Reports of child neglect to the NSPCC helpline in Scotland has reached record numbers.

According to the children’s charity, it refers an average of two reports of child neglect every day to Scottish police and social services.

In 2016/17 the NSPCC Helpline dealt with 905 reports in this way following calls or emails from concerned adults – up from 369 reports from five years ago.

There were a further 78 contacts where advice was provided about a child possibly facing neglect in Scotland during 2016/17.

UK-wide, the NSPCC Helpline made 16,882 referrals to children’s services or the police in 2016/17, the equivalent to 46 a day.

Child neglect was mentioned in more than a quarter of all UK calls to the NSPCC Helpline in the last year. This rise shows that more people are willing to speak up about the issue.

Neglect happens when a child’s needs aren’t met and is down to several reasons; they range from parents not having the skills, support or funds, to having mental health issues.

A growing number of people contacting the NSPCC Helpline also described parents as having a problem with alcohol and drugs, with some of them regularly leaving their children unsupervised so they could go drinking with friends.

These latest figures on neglect cases have been revealed in the NSPCC’s state of the nation report, How Safe are our Children? , and comes as more young people in Scotland are being taken into care, and more families are needing support.

The NSPCC is urging the Government to commission a nationwide study that measures the extent of child neglect and abuse in the UK.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC said: “Neglect can have severe and long-lasting consequences for children, and can also be an indicator of other forms of abuse.

“This is why it is so important for anyone suspecting a child of being neglected to contact the NSPCC Helpline, so we can alert the authorities to quickly step in and help those in need.”

Adults can contact the NSPCC Helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0808 800 5000, or help@nspcc.org.uk