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Child cruelty and neglect cases almost treble in five years

Published 28/10/2016

In 2015/16, the PSNI recorded 341 offences for cruelty to children and young people
In 2015/16, the PSNI recorded 341 offences for cruelty to children and young people

The number of cases of cruelty and neglect of children in Northern Ireland has almost trebled over the last five years.

The PSNI recorded 341 offences for cruelty to children and young people in 2015/16, compared to 116 cases in 2011/12.

There were 1,969 on the Child Protection Register in Northern Ireland, with neglect among the most common reasons for registration.

NSPCC Northern Ireland head Neil Anderson called for increased support for children who have suffered.

He said: "Cruelty and neglect is one of the most prevalent forms of child abuse in Northern Ireland and research shows it can lead to long-term physical, psychological and behavioural issues in later life.

"We know that the effects can be devastating, and it's clear that, as a society, we need to address this issue."

Cruelty and neglect happens when an adult who has responsibility for a child wilfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons or causes them unnecessary suffering or injury.

Children may be left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care or they may be put in danger or not protected from physical or emotional harm.

Research by the NSPCC estimates that for every child on the Child Protection Register a further eight have suffered abuse.

Mr Anderson added: "The Stormont Executive in its Programme for Government needs to make a greater commitment to support children who have suffered, with the development of clear guidelines on providing them with timely therapeutic support.

"Through our It's Time campaign the NSPCC is also calling for improved therapeutic support so children who have experienced abuse can begin to understand and recover from their experiences."

Press Association

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