Shocking rise in child neglect cases

The NSPCC says more children are being left home alone while parents go drinking Credit: PA

The NSPCC has revealed a shocking rise in child neglect cases in our region and says it is dealing with 18 reports every week

The NSPCC Helpline referred 927 cases to police and social services in the North East & Cumbria following calls or emails from concerned adults in the 2016-17 period.

It is the highest number the charity has ever had to handle from the region– up 128 per cent in five years.

In addition there has been over the past five years a total of 507 contacts where advice was provided about a child possibly facing neglect in the North East & Cumbria.

A growing number of people contacting the NSPCC Helpline regarding parents with alcohol and drugs problems, with some of them regularly leaving their children unsupervised so they could go drinking with friends.

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. I’m really confused about what to do as I don’t want to ruin the relationship with the mother as we are neighbours but at the same time I am really worried about the children. What should I do?

Neighbour's call to NSPCC helpline

The NSPCC believes the full scale of the problem could be much greater and is urging the Government to commission a nationwide study that measures the extent of child neglect and abuse in the UK.

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

  • Poor appearance and hygiene, they may be smelly or have unwashed clothes

  • Living in an unsuitable home environment for example dog mess being left or not having any heating

  • Left alone for a long time

  • Untreated injuries, medical and dental issues; they may have skin sores, rashes, flea bites, scabies or ringworm

  • Poor language, communication or social skills

  • Seem hungry or turn up to school without having breakfast or any lunch money

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC 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. “