Calls regarding emotional abuse or neglect of children have surged by 50 per cent in a single year, a leading children’s charity has claimed.
Over 8000 people called the NSPCC’s anonymous hotline. Over 5300 were serious enough to be referred to the police and children’s services.
This is a significant increase from last year, when 3629 cases required onward referral.
The NSPCC said the highly publicised death of Daniel Pelka could have contributed to the dramatically higher volume of calls.
John Cameron, Head of Child Protection Operations, said:
“We must recognise extreme emotional abuse for what it is – a crime – and those who carry it out should be prosecuted. This isn’t about prosecuting parents who don’t buy their children the latest gadgets or trainers this is about parents who consistently deny their children love and affection.”
Emotional abuse can include telling a child repeatedly that they are worthless, making them feel frightened or ridiculing them, whereas emotional neglect includes ignoring a child’s need to interact and failing to express positive feelings towards them, among other things.
The government is currently considering an update of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to categorise emotional abuse and neglect as child cruelty on the same level as physical abuse.
The proposed change is being called the ‘Cinderella Law’.
Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said:
“This increase in calls from the public shows both the scale and seriousness of emotional abuse and a heightened awareness of it.”
“A new law would help children living in cruel and unbearable situations.”