New NSPCC Figures Show Most People Wait Over a Month to Report Child Abuse
The NSPCC is today launching a new campaign, ‘Don’t wait until you’re certain,’ which urges the public not to ignore that niggling doubt about a child’s safety, as concerning new figures show most people wait over a month before picking up the phone.
In 2011, a record number of almost 45,000 people across the UK contacted the NSPCC because they were worried about a child. Around half of these cases were so serious they warranted immediate action. But a new report from the charity’s helpline service found that 56 per cent of these serious calls were from people who had been concerned about a child for at least a month . And over a quarter had waited at least six months.
These figures come as an exciting new viral campaign, made by Skins director Amanda Boyle, is launched in partnership with parents’ website Netmums. The viral, which mimics a well-known online meme but carries a serious message, will be seeded on YouTube, Netmums, Twitter and Facebook, where supporters will be able to donate their Facebook status to the campaign for a week. The NSPCC will also be holding a twelve hour ‘day in the life of the helpline’ event on Twitter, with live updates and interviews from 8am until 8pm.
Amanda Boyle, who held castings for the film with 5 to 7 year-olds in London, Glasgow and Manchester said: "It has been a privilege to work on such an important and sensitive campaign, which highlights the fact that if you're worried about a child it's so much better to ask for advice early on, rather than to wait until you're sure they're at risk. It’s a completely natural instinct to wait until you are sure, and one I relate to, but leaving it too late could be something you regret. This film is to tell people that the NSPCC are there to help, whether it’s an uncertain worry or a definite concern. They are experts, and can advise or support you and take action if necessary. What you call them about might be nothing, but it might also be something. If you’re worried about a child, need advice or want to talk, don’t wait until you’re certain."
TV presenter Kate Garraway said: “Very few people would walk by if they saw a child in danger and most people who suspect abuse or neglect do intend to do something. But sadly many wait far too long. They may not be sure, may not want to interfere in case they get an innocent person ‘in trouble’ or may worry that someone will find out who reported it. But they needn’t worry. The NSPCC’s trained counsellors are available 24/7 to listen to the public’s concerns, and people don’t have to say who they are. The NSPCC can take responsibility so they don’t have to.”
Varsha* contacted the NSPCC after several weeks of worrying about her neighbour’s son. She says: “I knew the mum had recently gone away, and the constant shouting had got worse since she left. The night I called the NSPCC, the boy’s screams reverberated in my mind. I was in tears imagining what it must be like for him and I couldn’t let it pass.
“It was a great relief for me to speak to the NSPCC counsellor. I immediately asked if I had done the right thing in calling, and she reassured me that I had. I felt taken seriously and that at least I had done something for this little boy.”
Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulous said: “We know that one in five children experience severe abuse or neglect at some point in their childhood. The impact of abuse can be profound, and the longer it continues the greater the risk of long-term physical and emotional damage. This new report highlights the reality that children are suffering because these adults are waiting too long to report their concerns. We are hopeful that this digital campaign will further break down the barriers that prevent people from contacting the NSPCC, and in doing so will help protect more children.”
Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of the Netmums website, said: “This campaign is particularly relevant to our audience as mums come into contact with other parents and children all the time, and are therefore likely to come across situations where they feel concerned but aren’t sure if they are witnessing signs of abuse. We also know that women are twice as likely to contact the NSPCC as men with their concerns.
“People may be scared to pick up the phone because they think this will automatically result in something drastic like the police turning up and taking their neighbour’s children away. But in many cases the NSPCC provides callers with help and advice without taking things any further. Its helpline counsellors deal with thousands of calls every year and will know the best course of action to take.”
Anyone who has concerns about a child or wants advice can contact the NSPCC for free 24 hours a day, by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing email@example.com, texting 88858 or using an online reporting form. They can choose to remain anonymous if they wish.
*Name has been changed to protect identity
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Belinda Whitehead - Communications Manager - on 02078252720 or email Belinda.firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
1. The NSPCC's free 24 hour helpline is staffed by experienced child protection counsellors. They have the knowledge and experience to know when a family needs more help and when a referral to the authorities needs to be made in order to keep a child safe. NSPCC helpline counsellors can be contacted in confidence by calling 0808 800 5000, texting 88858, (or 07786 200001 in Channel Islands or Isle of Man - standard charges apply) or emailing email@example.com
2. When a person telephones the NSPCC, a call handler will answer and ask the reason for the call. If the caller has child protection concerns they will be transferred to a trained counsellor who will explain the NSPCC's policy on remaining anonymous. The counsellor will then assess the information given, provide advice, and decide upon a course of action with the caller. If the decision is to refer the case to police or social services, the caller will be asked for details to identify the child. If however the counsellor decides a referral is not necessary, they will give advice about how the caller can help the child, if they want to. The caller is always in control of what they want to say and can choose not to give details that would identify either themselves or the child.
3. The campaign film was inspired by the popular 'Sh*t Girls Say' meme, which parodied the things girls allegedly say. The film went viral to over 14 million views prompting lots of copycat films and generating significant media attention. The film takes the 'Sh*t Girls Say' meme idea and uses it to dramatic effect to draw attention to 'The Sh*t Kids Say' as slang for 'the funny things kids say' which has been used frequently online. It features 5-7 year old children, who initially say genuinely funny things kids do say that will resonate strongly, particularly with mums. As the film progresses, the statements become more ambiguous and even uncomfortable to hear - the aim is for the viewer to be unsure if they are funny or actually a bit unpleasant. By the final comments, the things being said are clearly upsetting and leave the viewer in no doubt that their earlier instincts were correct.
4. According to the NSPCC's Child Cruelty in the UK report, 1 in 5 young people aged 11-17 reported that they experienced severe maltreatment at some time in their in childhood.
5. HPI tracking research (2011) shows that 3 in 4 adults would take action if worried about a child.
6. 'Helpline highlight: A year in review,' found that in 2011, 56 per cent of people whose call to the NSPCC resulted in a referral to an external agency like the social services or police said they had been concerned about the child for at least a month. Over a quarter (27 per cent) had concerns for at least six months. The report also found that contacts to the NSPCC had increased by 29% on the previous year. There has been a doubling of calls about abuse over the past five years. To download a copy of the report please visit www.nspcc.org.uk/helplinehighlights