Physical abuse Facts and statistics

We do not know exactly how many children are physically abused. But official statistics, research studies and what children tell us, give us a good idea about the abuse they are experiencing.

1 in 14 children have been physically abused

Explanation: Figures based on findings from 11-17 year olds. 6.9% said that they had experienced severe physical abuse (see p.8)

6.9% also said they had experienced physical violence at the hands of a parent or guardian (3.7% said severe physical violence). The definition of physical violence includes: being beaten, kicked, hit or physically hurt by a parent or guardian, or physically attacked with or without a weapon but not including “smacking” (see p. 44).

See also Indicator 6 in How safe are our children? 2016.

19% of contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline last year were concerns about physical abuse

Explanation: The NSPCC's helpline responded to 54,865 contacts in 2015/16, from people who were concerned about a child's welfare. 10,467 contacts (or 19%) related to concerns about physical abuse. 21% of the referrals that we made to police or children's services, related to physical abuse.

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

Disabled children are over 3 times more likely to be abused than non-disabled children

Explanation: Jones, L. et al searched 12 databases for studies that estimated the scale of violence against children with disabilities or that compared their risk of being victims of violence with children without disabilities.

16 studies were identified that provided suitable data about levels of violence against disabled children and 11 studies were identified that looked at risk.

By pooling together the data from these studies, the researchers were able to estimate that:

  • 26·7% of disabled children experienced some type of violence
  • 20·4% of disabled children experienced physical violence
  • 13·7% of disabled children experienced sexual violence.

Compared to their non-disabled peers, disabled children were estimated to be:

  • 3·68 times more likely to experience some kind of violence
  • 3·56 times more likely to experience physical violence
  • 2·88 times more likely to experience sexual violence.

Over 6,000 children were identified as needing protection from physical abuse last year

Explanation: There were 6,554 children in the UK on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans under a category that included physical abuse on 31 March 2015 (or 31 July 2015 in Scotland). This equates to 11% of all the children on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans. This is based on figures from each UK nation and includes all categories that include physical abuse.

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

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

England: 4,350
Northern Ireland: 1,059
Scotland: 615
Wales: 530

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

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

The NSPCC’s helpline responded to over 10,000 contacts about physical 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. 10,467 contacts (or 19%) related to concerns about physical abuse. 21% of the referrals that we made to police or children's services, related to physical abuse.

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

People

Over 9,000 children and young people contacted Childline about physical abuse last year

Explanation: 9,242 children and young people contacted Childline to talk about physical abuse in 2015/16. This includes where the young person has been physically abused by an adult/older person and where they have felt at risk or have been threatened with violence.

See also Indicator 7 in How safe are our children? 2016.

21% of the concerns that the NSPCC’s helpline referred to police or children’s services related to physical abuse

Explanation: The NSPCC's helpline responded to 54,865 contacts in 2015/16, from people who were concerned about a child's welfare. 10,467 contacts (or 19%) related to concerns about physical abuse. 21% of the referrals that we made to police or children's services, related to physical abuse.

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

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