The NSPCC’s helpline is receiving more than 50 calls per day regarding children suffering neglect, new figures have revealed.
Last year the charity's free, 24-hour helpline dealt with reports involving 18,345 children who had to be referred to social services or police for further investigation, many of these involved children under five.
Around one third of all contacts – by phone, email or text – were about neglect, which has been the main area of concern for the last seven years. Many of the children were living in filthy conditions often without enough food or adequate clothing and in one case sleeping on a flea-infested bed.
Thousands of young children suffering from neglect
John Cameron, NSPCC head of child protection operations, said: "There are thousands of children who are suffering from neglect many of whom are not old enough to go to school.
"We know when things are financially tough it can lead to greater stress which means more cases come to the attention of already over-stretched social services. One way in which we can all protect children and prevent abuse from happening is to share information.
"It’s extremely worrying that half of our referrals involve children under five, including babies, who rely on adults to speak out on their behalf. We urge the public and professionals to continue to act on their instincts when they feel something could be wrong, not wait until they are certain."
Increase in worried members of the public
In all, there were 50,989 contacts from the public who were worried about children’s welfare. This is an increase of 15% on last year. Of these one in five (9,090) related to physical abuse and one in six calls (7,347) were about children at risk of sexual abuse.
During 2012-13 more than 91,000 children were protected from abuse following calls to the helpline. Calls sometimes involve more than one child.
Alongside its main helpline the NSPCC has also set up 29 dedicated helplines including:
·Operation Yewtree (child abuse by late Jimmy Savile and others)
·Operation Pallial (child abuse in North Wales children’s homes)
·Operation Fernbridge (child abuse in Elm Guest House by prominent men)