Children’s charity the NSPCC is calling for a new approach to child abuse, focusing more on prevention as well as protection. It says this should help close the gap between the number of children who are abused or neglected at home, and the number who are actually protected by local authorities.
A new report by the charity reveals that for every child subject to a protection plan, or on child protection registers, another eight have suffered recent maltreatment.
It estimates that 520,000 children were maltreated by a parent or guardian in the UK in 2011. But only 58,000 became the subject of child protection plans in that year.
The charity estimates it would cost up to half a billion pounds every year to provide protection plans to just a quarter of these 'hidden' children. It also points out that preventative services which work with struggling parents before or as soon as issues arise can stop the need for costly protection measures later and make huge savings in both financial and human terms.
The new report, ‘How Safe Are Our Children’ includes the UK's first ever national child abuse tracker. It lists 19 indicators of child protection – which the NSPCC will now monitor.
The 19 indicators cover a wide array on data relating to child protection. They include child killings, sexual crimes, trafficking, calls to ChildLine and the NSPCC as well as referrals to social services and assessments.
The report also reveals nine childhood circumstances that are most likely to lead to children being abused and neglected. They are:
- Children living with family violence/domestic violence and abuse
- Children whose parents/carers have mental health problems
- Children whose parents/carers misuse of drugs and alcohol
- Children whose parents/carers have a learning disability
- Children living with poverty, debt and financial pressures
- Children whose parents were victims of abuse
- Children with physical and mental impairments
- Children from certain minority ethnic communities
- Children living within the care system.