Emotional abuse Facts and statistics

We don't know exactly how many children experience emotional abuse. But official statistics tell us how many children have been identified as being at risk of harm from emotional abuse. Research studies give us a better picture of children’s experiences. 

1 in 14 children have experienced emotional abuse by a parent or guardian. 

Explanation: Figures based on findings from 11-17 year olds. 6.8% said they had experienced emotional abuse by a parent or guardian. Emotional abuse in the survey included acts such as being scared or made to feel really bad because of name-calling, saying mean things or saying the child was unwanted; breaking or ruining the child’s things; and threatening the child with violence (see p. 45).

For the source of these figures please see our summary of child protection register and plan statistics in the UK (PDF).

People

Over 19,000 children were identified as needing protection from emotional abuse last year

Explanation: There were 18,949 children in the UK on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans under the category of emotional abuse on 31 March 2015 (or 31 July 2015 in Scotland). This equates to 33% of all the children on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans. This is based on figures from each UK nation.

These figures represent children identified and assessed as being at ongoing risk of significant harm from emotional abuse.

Children on the child protection register or subject to a child protection plan due to emotional abuse by nation:

  • England: 16,660
  • Northern Ireland: 1,020
  • Scotland: 1,085
  • Wales: 184

See also Indicator 14 in How safe are our children? 2016 and our summary of child protection plan and register statistics in the UK (PDF).

Find out more about the child protection system in the UK.

illustration of umbrella

Emotional abuse is the 2nd most common reason for children needing protection from abuse

Explanation: There were 18,949 children in the UK on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans under the category of emotional abuse on 31 March 2015 (or 31 July 2015 in Scotland). This equates to 33% of all the children on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans. This is based on figures from each UK nation.

These figures represent children identified and assessed as being at ongoing risk of significant harm from emotional abuse.

Children on the child protection register or subject to a child protection plan due to emotional abuse by nation:

  • England: 16,660
  • Northern Ireland: 1,020
  • Scotland: 1,085
  • Wales: 184

See also Indicator 14 in How safe are our children? 2016 and our summary of child protection plan and register statistics in the UK (PDF).

Find out more about the child protection system in the UK.

13% of contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline last year were concerns about emotional abuse

Explanation: The NSPCC’s helpline responded to 54,865 contacts in 2015/16, from people who were concerned about a child’s welfare.

7,105 contacts (or 13%) related to concerns about emotional abuse.

13% of the referrals that we made to police or children’s services, related to emotional abuse.

See also Indicator 8 in How safe are our children? 2016.

The NSPCC’s helpline responded to over 7,100 contacts about emotional abuse last year

Explanation: The NSPCC’s helpline responded to 54,865 contacts in 2015/16, from people who were concerned about a child’s welfare.

7,105 contacts (or 13%) related to concerns about emotional abuse.

13% of the referrals that we made to police or children’s services, related to emotional abuse.

See also Indicator 8 in How safe are our children? 2016.

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Research, reports and resources about emotional abuse
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