Child abuse could go unreported during lockdown despite increased risks

Anyone worried about a child urged to contact the NSPCC Helpline as new survey reveals over a quarter of adults are unsure where to go for help. 

Over a quarter of adults are unsure where to seek help about suspected child abuse, despite worries about the heightened risks to young people during the lockdown.

The NSPCC surveyed over 2,000 adults in Britain and found that 26% are not confident they would know where to seek help if they thought a child or young person was being abused or neglected.1

The survey showed more adults are worried about the impact of the lockdown on children suffering domestic abuse than any other type of harm. A significant number were also concerned about emotional and physical abuse.2

Helpline appeal

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 the NSPCC has launched a nationwide campaign, backed by people who've experienced abuse and £1.6million of Government funding, to ensure more people know they can contact the NSPCC Helpline if they're worried a child is unsafe.

Worried about a child?

If you're worried about a child or young person, you can contact the NSPCC Helpline for support and advice for free - call us on 0808 800 5000 or contact us online.

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support

Spotting the signs of child abuse

Spotting the signs of abuse or neglect may be more difficult during lockdown, but these can include:

      • aggressive or repeated shouting
      • hearing hitting or things being broken
      • children crying for long periods of time
      • very young children left alone or are outdoors by themselves
      • children looking dirty or not changing their clothes
      • children being withdrawn or anxious.

These signs don’t necessarily mean that a child is being abused, there could be other things happening in their life which are affecting their behaviour but we can help you to assess the situation.

Share your concerns

"If there had been an intervention earlier on, then we perhaps would have been able to escape sooner. He may not have gone on to carry out the same abuse on his next partner and her son. Even if your concern turns out to be something that was misheard or misinterpreted, make the call because it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. One phone call and you have the potential to change a child’s life, to save them."
Jess, 29, was abused by her father as a child

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


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


  1. 1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. A total of 2,061 British adults were surveyed online between 1st – 4th May 2020. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in England, Scotland and Wales.

  2. 2. When considering children and young people’s wellbeing during the lockdown imposed by the UK due to coronavirus, 1,576 (76%) were concerned about domestic abuse, while 1,522 (74%) were concerned about physical abuse and 1,512 (73%) for emotional abuse.