Belfast Telegraph

Reports of emotional abuse of kids treble in just seven years

 

By Eamon Sweeney

Reports of children suffering emotional abuse in Northern Ireland have more than trebled in seven years, according to a new report released today by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

Neil Anderson, who heads up the organisation in Northern Ireland, warned that the failure to report instances of emotional abuse can lead to wider forms of abuse, including violence and sexual abuse against children.

This year's child protection report from the NSPCC, entitled How Safe Are Our Children, reveals that since 2009/10 the number of contacts to the NSPCC helpline from people in Northern Ireland has risen from 28 to 100 and from 3,341 to 10,009 across the UK as a whole.

He said: "It is the case that more people are willing to report emotional abuse of children. There is an increased confidence in people to pick up the phone."

Despite the increased willingness to report this type of abuse of children to the NSPCC, the organisation feels that a specially commissioned report into the issue by the next Stormont Executive and the UK Government would reveal a more accurate picture of the problem.

Figures in the report, for example show, that last year (2016/17) the NSPCC helpline dealt with 842 contacts in Northern Ireland with 100 of them dealing with emotional abuse.

Some 66 of that 100 were deemed so serious that they warranted involvement from the PSNI and children's services.

The actual extent of the emotional abuse, however, remains unclear because the last dedicated study into it was conducted back in 2009, the NSPCC said.

"People who contact us have probably observed emotional abuse of kids for a considerable period of time in a given neighbourhood," said Mr Anderson.

"Eventually they contact the NSPCC."

The NSPCC said that ongoing emotional abuse will make children feel worthless and unloved and will profoundly affect a child's development.

"If people do not report emotional abuse they need to be aware that it can lead to a lot more for children," he said.

ChildLine can be contacted on 0800 11 11 or at www.childline.org.uk

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