Record numbers contact the NSPCC with concerns during lockdown

We're calling on government to explain in detail how they will support children’s physical and mental recovery from abuse and trauma suffered during lockdown.


Recent data shows that in April, May and June there were more than 22,000 contacts to the NSPCC helpline from adults with concerns for the wellbeing of a child.

This is an increase of almost a third (32%) on the monthly average for the three months prior to lockdown. We received 8,287 of contact in May – the highest number made to the NSPCC helpline in a single month on record.1

The main concerns people have spoken to NSPCC helpline about during this period have been parental behaviour, physical and emotional abuse and neglect.2
Around 40% of the contacts received were referred on to local authorities or the police for further action, which is also a slight increase on pre-lockdown levels.

These figures back up the findings of a research report we recently released – Social Isolation and the risk of child maltreatment in lockdown and beyond – which underlines how:

  • increasing parental and family stress
  • reductions in protective services
  • intensification of pressures on children’s emotional wellbeing caused by lockdown can increase the risk of abuse and neglect.

"I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the noises coming from one of one my neighbours – it’s been getting worse since the lockdown. I can hear the mother shouting and swearing at her two little ones, it sounds vengeful and aggressive. Sometimes the mother locks her kids out in the front garden as punishment – last time this happened the youngest was crying hysterically for half an hour, it was awful. Is there anything you can do?"
Adult who contacted the NSPCC helpline during lockdown

Children's recovery plan

Now we are calling on the government to urgently commit to a children’s recovery plan which sets out how they will:

  • deliver the long-term investment in children’s social care that is needed to provide high quality preventative and therapeutic services for children in every part of the country
  • invest in rebuilding support for families with babies and young children who have missed out on the normal support from health visitors during the lockdown
  • support multi-agency partnerships of the local authority, NHS and police to work with schools to review support for children known to the designated safeguarding lead, and identify those who continue to miss class with a plan to understand and address any barriers to a child’s school attendance
  • ensure schools are ready to help all children who need it – particularly those who may have suffered abuse, neglect or other traumatic experiences during the lockdown
  • support the NHS, including through the provision of additional investment, to develop a coordinated plan to respond to what is likely to be an increase in referrals into Children and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) arising from the coronavirus crisis.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said:

“The increase in contacts to our helpline during the lockdown highlights how the home has become an increasingly unhealthy and even dangerous place for some children.

“We must all play our part in supporting children to recover from the mental and physical harm many will have suffered these past few months. Government’s role is crucial, and it must put in place a detailed recovery plan which will support children and young people and make sure they can receive the expert help they need if they have had difficult or damaging experiences.

“Putting children at the heart of recovery planning and taking this action quickly will mean the crisis of the last three months does not scar the childhood of a whole generation.”

Abuse can stop with a call to the NSPCC Helpline. Will you help us answer every call?

NSPCC helpline are still here for children

There is growing concern for the safety of vulnerable children during the coronavirus crisis. Particularly given teachers and social workers have limited access to these children with most not taking up the places at school allocated to them.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has already reported that councils are seeing up to a 50% decline in social care referrals of children may be at risk.

That's why we’ve launched a nationwide campaign, backed by government funding, to let people all around the UK know that they can still contact our helpline with their concerns. If you’re worried about a child, or need advice and support, contact us.

More about our helpline


Names have been changed to protect identities. Any photographs are posed by models.


  1. 1.



    Pre-lockdown 30-day average

    6 Jan – 22 March


    1 – 30 April


    1 – 31 May


    1 – 30 June


  2. 2.

    Main Concerns
    (in descending order for June)


    6 Jan – 22 March

    April 2020

    May 2020

    June 2020

    Parent/adult health/behaviour

    19% (1st)

    24% (1st)

    22% (1st)

    22% (1st)

    Emotional abuse

    10% (5th)

    15% (2nd)

    18% (2nd)

    18% (2nd)


    14% (2nd)

    14% (4th)

    15% (4th)

    15% (3rd)

    Physical abuse

    12% (3rd)

    14% (3rd)

    15% (3rd)

    15% (4th)

    Sexual abuse (contact)

    11% (4th)

    7% (5th)

    6% (5th)

    8% (5th)

    Top 5 combined