Increase in child abuse cases causes concern for Christmas warns NSPCC

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HUNDREDS of child cruelty cases and neglect offences were recorded by Police Scotland last year prompting concern for children this Christmas.

Analysis of the police data for the whole of the UK show an increase of abuse by over 50% since 2016/17.

The NSPCC has now launched Here for Children Christmas Appeal after rising concerns for children’s welfare this festive season.

The charities analysis of police data found 23,529 offences were recorded by forces in 2019/20.

In Scotland this number has fluctuated over the past four years, with cases between 640  and 818, with last years total reaching 672.

During the spring lockdown, an average of 50 children a day, across the UK, turned to Childline after suffering abuse, with counselling sessions about this issue increasing by 22% compared with pre-lockdown levels.

NSPCC call centre employee at work - Crime News Scotland
There have been 672 concerns of adults neglecting, mistreating or assaulting children in Scotland in 2019/20

A 14-year-old girl from Scotland told a Childline counsellor: “I’m feeling so stressed and upset at home right now. My dad abuses me a lot by making me starve.

“I literally have to beg for things to eat, and if I do get food it’s the tiniest bits. I feel hungry a lot but then it just turns into me feeling sick.

“I just wanted someone to talk to so I came here.” 

To raise awareness of child neglect and abuse this Christmas, the NSPCC has launched its Here for Children Christmas Appeal

NSPCC call centre employee at work - Crime News Scotland
The charity organisation are urging people to look for the signs of abuse this Christmas

NSPCC Scotland has urged the Scottish Government to ensure that a comprehensive recovery plan is put in place and to deliver the long-term investment needed to provide high quality preventative and therapeutic services for children and support for families in every part of the country.

Matt Forde, head of service at NSPCC Scotland, said: “Every year there are children in Scotland experiencing pain and suffering at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them.

“For those children whose homes are not always a safe place, this year will have been extremely difficult.

“Their usual support networks and services will have been greatly reduced and many will have felt trapped and isolated.

“So, this year it is even more essential that children have a place where they can seek help and support.

“Our Childline service will be running every day over the Christmas holidays, but we need the public’s support so we can ensure vulnerable children are heard.”

The NSPCC is encouraging the public to look out for signs of abuse and speak up if they are concerned about a child.

Signs of abuse and neglect to look out for can include: Untreated injuries, repeated accidental injuries,  recurring illnesses or infections Faltering weight or growth, poor communication skills, have unwashed clothes, inadequate clothing, living in an unsuitable home environment, being left alone for a long time, taking on the role of carer for other family members

Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email [email protected]