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How safe are our children? 2014

NSPCC research findings

How safe are our children? 2014

March 2014

This report compiles the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists across each of the four nations in the UK.

It sets out 20 different indicators. Each indicator looks at the question of "how safe are our children?" from a different perspective. It also includes a section summarising the factors that influence a child's risk of abuse or neglect.

The report allows us not only to understand how many children are being abused and neglected, but also to track progress so that society can be held to account for its responsibility to children. Only by monitoring the extent of child abuse and neglect in the UK can we judge whether efforts to prevent maltreatment and to protect children are working.

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Key messages
Key findings
Indicators, spotlight and data briefing
Download the report


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Key messages

Demand is outgrowing expenditure

Insufficient early support services, more families struggling financially and higher thresholds have turned child protection into an emergency service, only able to react to the most serious cases.
See the demand and expenditure infographic

Taking a broader view

Safeguarding and protecting children extends far beyond children's social care, into a wide range of services that are provided by public, private and third sector organisations.
See the child protection system infographic

A greater focus is needed on early intervention

We also need to spend smarter, making sure we invest up front in stopping families slipping into abusive or neglectful behaviour by focussing on risk factors that influence a child's risk of suffering abuse or neglect. This is far more effective in protecting children and costs less in the long run.
See the risk infographic


Key findings

  • The most serious forms of physical abuse such as homicide and deaths by assault remain down and have been steadily falling.
  • There is an increased willingness to speak out about abuse and neglect. For example, contacts to the NSPCC helpline increased by 15% in 2012/13 compared with the previous year.
  • Online abuse continues to be a growing issue. The number of counselling sessions ChildLine held about cyber bulling increased by 87% in 2012/13 compared with the previous year. Ofcom reports that one child in five has seen content online that they found worrying, nasty or offensive, and the proportion of children experiencing this has increased every year since 2011.
  • The number of counselling sessions ChildLine holds where self-harm and suicide are the main concern continues to rise.
  • The number of children on child protection registers and protection plans continues to increase in England, Wales and Scotland. As does the number of children who are looked after due to abuse or neglect in England and Wales.

Indicators of child safety

Indicators, spotlight and data briefing

Visit the How safe are our children? The 20 indicators page for:

  • details on each indicator
  • a spotlight on the criminal justice response to child sexual abuse
  • a briefing on the data sources used in compiling the full How safe are our children? 2014 report.

Download the full report: How safe are our children? 2014 (2.38MB, PDF)

Please cite as: Jütte, S., Bentley, H., Miller, P. and Jetha, N. (2014) How safe are our children? London: NSPCC. Available at: www.nspcc.org.uk/howsafe


Contact the NSPCC's information service with any question about child abuse, child neglect or child protection


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