CHILD cruelty and neglect offences in Warwickshire rose by over a third in the last year, new figures from a children’s charity reveal.
Warwickshire Police recorded 133 child cruelty and neglect offences – more than two and a half times the rate recorded in 2013-14.
The NSPCC has issued the findings as part of a warning that children may be at risk of abuse this Christmas and that everyone needs to play their part in keeping young people safe.
To raise awareness, a number of iconic UK landmarks including Battersea Power Station will turn green from December 7, supporting the NSPCC’s Here for Children Christmas Appeal.
The charity has also launched a new TV appeal which depicts some of the heart-breaking abuse contacts the NSPCC-run service Childline expects to take in the Christmas holidays.
The NSPCC has also been looking closely at the impact of lockdown – and its frontline teams are concerned that increased vulnerability, the challenges of safeguarding remotely, and wider pressures on families may have increased the risks of abuse and neglect.
During the spring lockdown, counselling sessions about child abuse rose by 22 per cent compared with pre-lockdown levels.
As part of its new appeal, the charity is calling on the public to donate £20 to the NSPCC so that services like Childline can be there for children this Christmas.
The NSPCC is also urging the government to ensure a comprehensive recovery plan is put in place that sees children get the help they need in the short and long term, including investment in support for victims before, during and after the criminal justice process.
The charity’s CEO Peter Wanless said: “The pandemic is the greatest challenge we’ve faced in decades and these figures are yet another example of its impact on vulnerable children. They also provide a heart-breaking picture of the concern about the number of young people who were exposed to pain and suffering following the start of the pandemic.
“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 child abuse and neglect can include untreated injuries, medical and dental issues, repeated accidental injuries caused by lack of supervision, recurring illnesses or infections, and faltering weight or growth or not reaching developmental milestones.
Other signs include poor language, communication or social skills, unwashed or inadequate clothes, an unsuitable home environment, being left alone for a long time, and taking on the role of carer for other family members.
Adults concerned about a child can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the NSPCC helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000.