Helpline sees rise in contacts about neglect and abuse during Christmas

Almost 30% of contacts to the NSPCC helpline in December 2015 were about neglect

NSPCC counsellor on phone

Christmas and New Year can be a particularly difficult time for families and vulnerable children. There's a significant increase in the number of people who get in touch about child abuse and neglect over the Christmas period.

In December 2015, our helpline received 1,129 calls from people reporting cases of neglect. And since 2011, we've received a:

  • 54% rise in reports of sexual abuse 
  • 47% increase in calls on physical abuse 
  • 44% increase in calls about emotional abuse 

The total number of calls to the helpline in December last year was 3,750 – up by a third over 4 years.

"The mother is holding parties around the house all the time with male strangers in and out of the family home. Sometimes I can smell drugs from the house and I know the children are inside. "
Female / Anonymous helpline caller

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Peter WanlessPeter Wanless, Chief Executive at the NSPCC, said
"Christmas should be happy time of year to be shared with loved ones, but sadly that is not the case for all children.

“A lot of the serious difficulties some families face the rest of the year are magnified at Christmas time, pushing families to their limits.

“For example, the risk of domestic abuse in an already violent home can increase as a result of alcohol consumption. Some children will wake up without a roof over their head, while others will not be fed and clothed properly.

“Abuse doesn’t stop at Christmas and it’s deeply worrying that abuse like this is going on. But it’s a positive thing that people are vigilant and continue to report any concerns they might have about the welfare of a child.

“It’s vital that anyone with concerns about a child gets in touch with the NPSCC, as our staff are able to provide advice and support and can refer reports on to police or children’s services if necessary.”