Belfast Telegraph

Over 20 babies at risk in Northern Ireland homes

Public urged to contact NSPCC helpline as shocking statistic revealed

By Amanda Poole

Shock new figures show that 22 referrals were made to children’s services in the past year about babies in Northern Ireland under the age of one.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has launched its All Babies Count campaign after it was contacted by people who had a range of concerns about a baby’s safety.

One worried Northern Ireland caller contacted the NSPCC helpline about ‘Aisha’ (not her real name) because she was dirty and had a severe nappy rash.

Her mother did not feed her regularly, left her to cry for long periods of time and it was clear the family needed support to ensure Aisha was well cared for and safe.

In this case the NSPCC contacted children’s services to request that an assessment was carried out to ensure Aisha’s family were given the right help and support.

The NSPCC is now calling for services that work with parents to recognise and tackle the problems that are out there and for the public to contact their helpline if they are concerned about a baby.

Despite a high level of reporting to its helpline, the NSPCC believes there are far more babies who are at risk but do not get the help they need.

TV psychologist and NSPCC helpline ambassador, Dr Linda Papadopoulos, who is backing the NSPCC’s call for action, said the first year of a baby’s life provides the essential foundations for all future learning, behaviour and health.

“Harm at this age can have lifelong consequences,” Dr Papadopoulos said.

“Older children may be able to confide in someone or call ChildLine if there is a problem, but obviously babies can’t.

“This makes it even more important that any concerns are reported straight away to the NSPCC helpline.”

National head of service in Northern Ireland, Neil Anderson, said: “The NSPCC helpline is here to help any child in danger.

“The public have been coming forward when they see a child in danger and we urge them to keep calling.

“But we are also taking action and calling on the Executive to support us and stop abuse and neglect happening in the first place by investing in early intervention and frontline services.

“To help keep families safe, it is vital that problems are picked up early.”

For more information visit www.nspcc.org.uk/allbabiescount — NSPCC helpline: 0808 800 5000, email: help@nspcc.org.uk , text: 88858

Factfile

  • 1 in 5 babies in Northern Ireland are living in families where one or either parent/caretaker is at high risk of depression or serious anxiety.
  • 1 in 100 mothers and 1 in 20 fathers of babies under one report hazardous levels of alcohol consumption.
  • 1 in 60 mothers in Northern Ireland report that their current partner has at some point used force against them.


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