Child welfare referrals from NSPCC in Wales surge during pandemic
The number of children referred to the police or social services in Wales increased during the pandemic, according to the NSPCC.
There were 2,494 referrals made by the helpline to external agencies in Wales in 2020/21 – a 28% increase compared to 2019/20. Referrals are made when concerns reported to the helpline are considered serious enough to warrant further investigation.
The top reasons for referrals being made go unchanged, with concerns relating to parental and adult mental health and behaviour leading to 932 referrals to Wales-based agencies.
This includes worries about parental alcohol and substance misuse, domestic abuse and parental mental health.
A record number of adults with concerns about children called the NSPCC in the last 12 months, as contacts to its helpline UK-wide rose by nearly a quarter.
The service received nearly 85,000 contacts from April 2020 to March 2021, a 23% increase on the previous year. Of these, 39,995 contacts were referred to external agencies such as the police or children’s services.
The figures echo concerns from the charity’s frontline teams that the pandemic has increased the risks of abuse and neglect, with children both more vulnerable and sometimes out of sight of people who can keep them safe.
The NSPCC is now warning that with most children back in schools and society, the hidden harms they experienced during the lockdowns will become visible.
Policy and Public Affairs Manager for NSPCC Cymru/Wales, Cecile Gwilym says: “To build a better future for children in Wales, we want to see a big focus on prevention and protecting children from neglect and abuse both online and offline.
“As well as delivering a supportive environment in the early years and helping children to speak out about abuse, we want the next Welsh Government to ensure that services are available, accessible and well-equipped to help children recover from traumatic experiences.”
Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, says: ‘’We’ve been hearing first-hand about the immense pressures families have faced during the pandemic and the heavy toll that has taken on children and young people.”
“For some children, this has included experiencing abuse, bereavement and other harm.”
“The record number of contacts to our helpline reinforces the need for Governments across the UK to put children at the heart of their recovery plans.”
“These must go beyond education and address the harm some have experienced so the pandemic doesn’t leave a legacy of trauma for children.”
“But this isn’t just a job for our Governments. Everyone has to play their part in keeping children safe. And that’s why we’re planning Childhood Day on 11 June when we’ll celebrate childhood and encourage people to get involved in making sure all children grow up happy and safe.”
The NSPCC helpline is staffed by trained professionals who can provide expert advice and support for adults with concerns about a child, or for parents, carers and professionals looking for information or guidance. To get in contact, call 0808 800 5000, email email@example.com or fill in our online form.
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