Reports of children in Wales being emotionally abused has trebled in seven years
Reports of children in Wales being emotionally abused more than trebled in seven years, according to new figures released by the NSPCC today.
The charity’s annual child protection report ‘How Safe Are Our Children’ found that since 2009/10 the number of contacts to the NSPCC Helpline from people in Wales concerned about children being subjected to emotional abuse has risen from 112 to 344 in 2016/17.
This has been mirrored across the UK, with the number of reports to the NSPCC’s helpline rising from 3,341 in 2009/10 to 10,009 in 2016/17; a staggering 200% rise.
[miptheme_quote author=”Welsh Assembly Government 2006 Safeguarding children: Working together under the Children Act 2004.” style=”boxquote text-left”]Emotional abuse: The persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional and behavioural development [/miptheme_quote]
However, the charity fears the full scale of the problem could be much greater and is demanding that the Government commissions a nationwide study that looks at the prevalence of child abuse and neglect in the UK.
Helpline staff are hearing accounts of parents telling their children they hate them or wished they were dead, threatening them with extreme violence and blaming them for issues they are facing themselves such as unemployment or financial problems, the charity says.
[miptheme_quote author=”Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, said:” style=”boxquote text-left”]Hearing reports from our Helpline about parents or carers who are consistently verbally assaulting, bullying, isolating or humiliating their children is devastating.
The huge increase in people recognising and reporting emotional abuse to our Helpline indicates people are willing to take action, but the disturbing truth is that the UK has no idea how many other children are suffering from emotional abuse or in fact, any type of abuse.
We urgently need Government to step in now, before another eight years go by, and commission a study that gives us the clearest possible picture of the extent of child abuse and neglect in the UK.” [/miptheme_quote]
Last year NSPCC child protection experts dealt with 10,009 contacts relating to emotional abuse – the equivalent to 27 a day – with three-quarters referred to the police and children’s services as they were deemed so severe.
In Wales there were nearly 500 referrals over the last two years alone, with 205 in 2015/16 and 272 in 2016/17.
Despite a huge increase in the amount of people reporting emotional abuse to the NSPCC Helpline over the last seven years, it is unclear how many more children in the UK are suffering from emotional abuse, or any other form of maltreatment, because of a lack of research in to the extent of abuse. The last study of this kind took place in 2009.
[miptheme_quote author=”NSPCC” style=”boxquote text-left”]On-going emotional abuse can make children feel worthless and unloved and can have a profound effect on a child’s development, which can lead to issues in later life, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance misuse and suicidal feelings.
Children who are emotionally abused may also be experiencing or be at risk of another type of abuse or neglect, the NSPCC Helpline has heard from people who were repeatedly worried that the emotional abuse they witnessed would turn into physical abuse.[/miptheme_quote]
NSPCC Helpline workers have identified three common themes raised by callers concerned that a child was being emotionally abused.
These included domestic violence, alcohol or substance abuse, and mental health issues.
Because there’s an element of emotional abuse in all other types of child abuse and neglect, it can be difficult to spot the signs and to separate what’s emotional abuse from other types of abuse.
The NSPCC has published advice on the signs you may notice in a child’s actions or emotions:
- be overly-affectionate towards strangers or people they haven’t known for very long
- lack confidence or become wary or anxious
- be aggressive or nasty towards other children and/or animals
- struggle to control strong emotions or have extreme outbursts
- lack social skills or have few, if any, friends
The last study of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect was conducted in 2009 by the NSPCC. Since then there’s been significant changes for children’s lives, not least the increase in reporting of online abuse, and big increases in reporting of child sexual abuse.
Any adult worried about a child is urged to contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com