A leading children’s charity has revealed that it saw a 47 per cent increase in calls to its child abuse and neglect helpline from Birmingham in the run-up to last Christmas.
The NSPCC’s helpline, which takes calls and emails from adults who have concerns about a child, received a total of 71 contacts in December 2015 – up from the 48 calls received in December 2011.
The most common issues in Birmingham were neglect and physical abuse.Across the country, the helpline received 3,750 contacts in December 2015, which is up by a third over four years.
The charity says the figures show that December is a time of heightened risk and increased vulnerability, with reports of sexual abuse rising 54 per cent from four years ago, to 580.
Meanwhile, reports of physical abuse – the second most frequently cited concern in December 2015 – had gone up 48 per cent to 764.The charity says signs of neglect can include children frequently appearing poorly clothed or dirty, or if they try to steal food.
Children who are being abused might also have physical injuries, appear more withdrawn than usual, or might fear certain adults.NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said:
“The festive season should be a happy time of year to be shared with loved ones, but sadly that is not the case for all children. Abuse doesn’t stop in December and during the holidays children can become isolated from the wider community and their support network. Problems faced throughout the year can be magnified in the run-up to Christmas. It’s deeply worrying that we are seeing an increase of reports about abuse, but it’s positive that people are vigilant and reporting any concerns they might have about the welfare of a child rather than standing by.”
The NSPCC’s helpline can be contacted 24 hours a day on 0808 800 5000.