Pirate FM News 4 minute read

Cases of child cruelty and neglect almost double

Cases of child cruelty and neglect almost double

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:36am 27th November 2019. (Updated at 11:19am 27th November 2019)

The number of cases of child cruelty and neglect in Cornwall and Devon has almost doubled.

The NSPCC says our police recorded over 600 incidents in the last year.

That has increased from 320 in the 12 months before.

The charity says there has been a huge rise nationwide too, with 20,000 incidents recorded in 2018/2019.

What do the figures show?

The charity has analysed police data for the whole of the UK over the last five years and found child cruelty and neglect offences have risen every year. 

These included extreme cases of when parents or carers deliberately neglected, assaulted, abandoned or exposed their child to serious harm and unnecessary suffering.

There were 20,024 child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in 2018/19, which has more than doubled since 2013/14 where there were 9,518 crimes of this nature.

In the last five years, police forces in the south-west recorded 7,099 offences against children of cruelty and neglect, with 2,002 recorded cases in the last year alone.

In Devon and Cornwall, police recorded 614 offences in 2018/2019, which is up from 320 the previous year.

How can I spot if a child is being mistreated or neglected?

  1. Poor appearance or hygiene: Being smelly or dirty, being hungry or not given money for food, having unwashed clothes, having the wrong clothing such as no warm clothes in winter and having frequent and untreated nappy rash in infants.
  2. Health and development problems: Anaemia, body issues such as poor muscle tone or prominent joints, medical or dental issues, missed medical appointments such as for vaccinations, not given the correct medicines, poor language or social skills, regular illness or infections, repeated accidental injuries - often caused by lack of supervision, skin issues, such as sores, rashes, flea bites, scabies or ringworm, thin or swollen tummy, tiredness, untreated injuries and weight or growth issues.
  3. Housing and family issues: Living in an unsuitable home environment such as having no heating, being left alone for a long time and taking on the role of carer for other family members.
  4. Change in behaviour: Becoming clingy, becoming aggressive, being withdrawn, depressed or anxious, changes in eating habits, displaying obsessive behaviour, finding it hard to concentrate or take part in activities, missing school, showing signs of self-harm and using drugs or alcohol.

You can read more advice on how to deal with child cruelty and neglect here.

What does the NSPCC say?

To raise awareness of child neglect and abuse the NSPCC has launched its Light For Every Childhood Christmas appeal.

The NSPCC Christmas appeal is calling for donations so it can be there for children suffering from neglect and abuse at Christmas and all year round. 

The charity's Childline service is the only service there for children 24/7 during the upcoming festive period, but it needs support for 2020 and beyond. 

The NSPCC says there are several potential reasons for the rise in child cruelty and neglect crimes, from better police recording to increasing pressure on families and cuts in funding making it harder for local authorities to offer early intervention services that tackle the causes of neglect. 

The charity believes recorded police offences of this type do not reveal the full picture of neglect in the UK, because local authorities will step in before many of these cases are reported as a crime.

"To see year after year the number of neglect and cruelty offences rise so dramatically is disturbing. 

"Greater public awareness and improvements in police recording could be factors in this continuous increase, but deeper societal issues such as increasing pressure on parents and a lack of investment in early intervention services, are leaving more children vulnerable and exposed to pain and suffering.

"Whatever the reasons for the rise cruelty to children is never ok, it is vital that children always have a place they can go to seek help and support, day and night. 

"Childline never stops and never sleeps, but for this to continue we need the public's support and to back our 'Light for Every Childhood' Appeal".

CEO of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless

You can read more about the Light For Every Childhood appeal here.

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