Fears child abuse is going unreported during coronavirus lockdown

A UK charity fighting to end child abuse says cases could go unreported during lockdown despite the increased risks.

The NSPCC says more than one in four adults in the north of England are unsure where to go for advice if they fear that a child is being abused or neglected.

There is growing concern for the safety of vulnerable children during the coronavirus crisis, particularly as support systems like teachers and social workers have limited contact.

Councils are seeing a 50% decline in referrals from social care of children who are most at risk, according to the Local Government Association.

The NSPCC has launched a nationwide campaign, backed £1.6million of Government funding, to ensure more people know they can raise concerns about child safety and wellbeing to its Helpline.

Spotting the signs of abuse or neglect may be more difficult in the present climate, but indicators can include:

  • aggressive or repeated shouting

  • hearing hitting or things being broken

  • children crying for long periods of time

  • very young children left alone or are outdoors by themselves

  • children looking dirty or not changing their clothes

  • children being withdrawn or anxious.

Children can be more vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak as they may see teachers or other sources of support less frequently. Credit: PA

Kam Thandi, Head of NSPCC Helpline, said: “It is terrible to think that cases of child abuse and neglect may be going unreported because people don’t know where to go to for help and advice.

“At the moment, we’re increasingly reliant on the public to come forward with their concerns and if reports drop we fear abusers will have free reign to harm children, both physically and emotionally.

“Even if you are not 100% sure, we urge any adult who is worried for the safety or wellbeing of a child to contact our helpline.

"We can answer any questions and concerns, provide reassurance or importantly take quick action if we feel a child is in danger.”

  • Experts are available at the 0808 800500 number from 8am-10pm Monday-Friday or 9am-6pm on Saturdays and Sunday.

  • They are available 24 hours a day by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk or via the online reporting form.

  • Advice can also be found on the NSPCC website.