NSPCC: Calls for new approach to child protection

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Fewer children are dying as a result of homicide, assault or suicide today, but disturbing levels of child abuse remain according to a new report from the NSPCC.

The children’s charity, which runs local services to support vulnerable children and their families in Northamptonshire, is calling for a new approach to child protection aimed at stopping child abuse and maltreatment before it starts.

According to How Safe are our Children, for every child in the UK subject to a protection plan or on child protection registers another eight have suffered maltreatment.

The charity estimates it would cost up to half a billion pounds every year to provide protection plans to just a quarter of these hidden children.

With 637 children on a child protection plan in Northamptonshire during 2011-12, NSPCC regional head of services for children and families, Sandra Lescott-Robinson, said: “Abuse and maltreatment can have a devastating effect on a child’s mental and physical health.

“Without support to overcome their early experiences, a child can be scarred for life.

“When we discover abuse we must do everything we can to protect children from further harm and help them recover.

“But child protection services are already working in overdrive, so we must prevent abuse from happening to so many children in the first place.

“By identifying and supporting vulnerable children and their families early we can stop abuse before it starts and set a new course to give children a brighter, happier future.

“We are working closely with statutory services and other partners to develop services that are based on some of the best models of child protection in the world.“

The ChildLine Schools Service is one of the services the NSPCC offers in Northamptonshire to prevent children experiencing abuse or neglect.

Launched in November, the service plans to visit every local primary school by 2016 to help every child understand what abuse is and how they can stay safe.

Using assemblies and workshops delivered to Year 5 and 6 pupils by trained volunteers, the service is designed to encourage children to recognise situations where they may need help and to let them know where they can get support if they need it.

Sessions are sensitively tailored to ensure topics are covered in a way that children can understand and have been approved as suitable for nine to 11-year-olds by child protection specialists.

Karen Squillino, ChildLine Schools Service manager for the East Midlands, said: “Research tells us that child abuse can remain hidden for many years with children suffering in silence and other children continuing to be at risk from perpetrators.

“Many children fail to recognise their experience as abusive and often do not know where they can go for help.

“We believe that by sensitively teaching children about how to recognise abuse and where to get help we can help stop child abuse before it starts and give children a safer, brighter future.”

All of the NSPCC’s services are provided free both to the families they work with and to their partner organisations such as local authorities and the NHS, thanks to the generosity of the public who support them.

By supporting the NSPCC’s work, people can help them continue to develop services to stop child abuse before it starts.

How Safe are our Children – launched by the charity today (Thursday) – is the first ever national child abuse tracker.

Its new report presents 19 indicators of child protection in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The NSPCC will now monitor progress against the indicators on a regular basis.

The report also reveals nine childhood circumstances which are most likely to lead to children being abused and neglected.

To find out more about the services the NSPCC offers to local children and families or how you can support the charity’s work visit www.nspcc.org.uk.

To donate £4 to help the NSPCC continue to develop services in the Midlands to keep children safe from harm text “MIDS” to 70744.