How safe are our children? 2016 The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK

Girl stood by a wall and smilingOur report compiles and analyses the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists across the 4 nations in the UK for 2016.

The report sets out 20 different indicators. Each indicator looks at the question of 'how safe are our children?' from a different perspective. They also include historic data, to help track progress over time.

Authors: Holly Bentley, Orla O'Hagan, Annie Raff and Iram Bhatti
Published: 2016

There has been an increase in the reporting and recording of child abuse and neglect

  • All 4 countries in the UK have seen the number of recorded sexual offences against children increase over the last year.
  • England and Wales have seen an increase in the number of recorded cruelty and neglect offences in the last year.
  • Reports of online abuse have increased, including:
    • a rise in the number of ChildLine counselling sessions about sexting and cyberbullying
    • an increase in the number of URLs containing child abuse images being identified and removed from the internet
    • an increase in the number of recorded obscene publication offences.

More support is needed for children who have been abused. We know that abuse and neglect can impact on children and young people's mental health. We need to make sure that therapeutic support is available for children who have been abused, but currently the commissioning of services is being held back by a lack of data.

Overview 6
Measuring the extent of abuse and neglect in the UK 10
Indicator 1: Child homicides recorded by police includes the offences of murder, manslaughter and infanticide 16
Indicator 2: Child mortality deaths by assault and undetermined intent 18
Indicator 3: Child suicides 22
Indicator 4: Number of recorded sexual offences against children 26
Indicator 5: Number of recorded cruelty and neglect offences 30
Indicator 6: Self-reported prevalence of abuse and neglect 32
Indicator 7: Contacts with ChildLine 34
Indicator 8: Contacts with the NSPCC helpline 36
Indicator 9: Online harm 40
Indicator 10: Violent incidents experienced by 10 to 15 year olds Crime Survey for England and Wales 44
Indicator 11: Referrals to social services 46
Indicator 12: Children in need 50
Indicator 13: Children in the child protection system 52
Indicator 14: Composition of child protection plans and child protection registers 56
Indicator 15: Re-registration onto child protection registers returning to a child protection plan 60
Indicator 16: How long children are subject to child protection plans or the child protection register 64
Indicator 17: Looked after children 66
Indicator 18: Proportion of looked after children who have three or more placements during the year 70
Indicator 19: Child trafficking 74
Indicator 20: Public attitudes to child abuse and neglect 78
Glossary 82
Endnotes 86

"How Safe are our Children not only enables us to understand the extent to which children within the UK are being abused and neglected. It also enables us to track progress and see how the child protection landscape is changing."

Please cite as: Bentley, H., O'Hagan, O, Raff, A. and Bhatti, I. (2016) How safe are our children? The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK 2016. London: NSPCC.

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