1. ITV Report

Record reports of child neglect in Wales

The number of people that called the NSPCC Helpline in the past year is at a record high Credit: PA

Reports of neglect to the NSPCC Helpline in Wales have reached record numbers.

According to the charities latest figures, The NSPCC refers an average of 16 reports of child neglect every week to Welsh police and social services.

The helpline dealt with 804 reports in 2016/17 from concerned adults - an 80% rise in the space of five years, up from 447 in 2011/12.

Neglect means that a child’s needs for safety, physical care and love are not being met to an extent that could cause them serious or lasting harm.

referrals to police and social services in Wales in 2016/17

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

rise in referrals in Wales over the last five years

A growing number of people contacting the NSPCC Helpline 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.

One neighbour that called the helpline said:

The children are home alone again; I saw the mother leave the house earlier this morning and its past midnight now. I’ve seen the children peer through the curtains a few times as if they’re waiting for her. She does this every Friday night to go out drinking with her mates.

– NSPCC Helpline caller

A family member of a suspected neglected child said:

I am concerned for the safety of a little boy; he does not seem to be getting adequate care at home. His mother doesn’t seem interested in looking after him and lets him stay up all night; she has alcohol and drug abuse problems. He is regularly being left unsupervised and I am worried that he could seriously hurt himself at home alone, because I know it has happened before.

– NSPCC Helpline caller

NSPCC Cymru is calling for neglectful parenting to be a key priority for safeguarding boards, public service boards and government.

Common signs and symptoms adults may notice in a child who is being neglected include:

  • The child may be aggressive and hostile, prone to angry outbursts or lashing out towards others
  • Poor appearance and hygiene, they may be smelly or have unwashed clothes
  • Poor language, communication or social skills
  • Seem hungry or turn up to school without having breakfast or any lunch money
NSPCC Helpline dealt with 804 reports in calls or emails Credit: PA

Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Wales, 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.

– NSPCC Wales, Des Mannion