More than 17,000 adults seek support about child neglect from the NSPCC helpline Contact our helpline over Christmas if you are worried about a child

New figures show that last year (April 2013 – March 2014) we supported more than 17,000 adults who were worried about a child being neglected.

We are encouraged that more and more adults are willing to speak up about their concerns. Our helpline experienced a 28 per cent increase in the number of people coming forward about child neglect last year.

Our helpline provides parents, professionals and members of the public with a safe, non-judgemental space for them talk through their concern. If it’s felt that a child is in immediate danger then an NSPCC expert supports the caller and carefully considers what action to take next – this can involve making a referral to the police or children’s services on their behalf.

Last year we informed the police and children’s services about 24,041 children who are potentially at risk of being neglected.

Neglect remained the main reason that people contacted us accounting for 31 per cent of all contacts.

Speak up for children over Christmas

We are now calling on people to make sure that they continue to speak out to protect children over the Christmas period, a time when children can be more at risk of neglect and abuse.

Head of the NSPCC helpline John Cameron said:
“We know that neglect can have severe long lasting consequences for children – which is why it is so encouraging that more people are choosing to speak up and to contact our helpline about this.

“The earlier neglect is caught the easier it is to stop and in most cases families can be supported to turn around their problems and provide children with the care they need.

"Our helpline provides a safe space for people to talk through these concerns, somewhere they won’t be judged and somewhere they can seek advice about what is best to do next.

“The lead up to Christmas can be a time when some children are at particular risk, partly because they will be out of sight of adults, as teachers who would normally notice the signs of neglect.

"The holidays can also be a time when family pressures are heightened meaning children are at more risk of neglect and abuse – so we must make sure they get the protection they need at Christmas too.

“We are calling on anyone with concerns about a child to get in touch with us – our helpline practitioners are available 24/7 and are here to help and provide advice on the best course of action to keep that child safe.”

In 2013-14, our helpline had 61,642 contacts.

Delia's story

Delia* called the NSPCC because of concerns about her friend Linda’s* three children who were being neglected. Linda has since been convicted of child neglect and her children are living in foster care.

Delia said: “Linda started leaving her three children with me quite regularly. There were times she was so drunk I wouldn’t return her children to her. Other times, we just didn’t hear from her – like when the children didn’t know whether they’d be spending Christmas with their mum or not, until she collected them late on Christmas Eve.

“I saw Linda’s son after he was taken out of his mother’s care. He was a totally different child: clean, happy and well-fed. He just walked up and gave me a hug and said ‘I’m happy now. My brother is happy now’. They’re building their relationship up again with their with their mum, which is good if she can get herself straight and sorted. So I’m hoping, maybe one day they will be back together and it’ll be okay. For the time being, they’re happy and safe and that’s the main thing.”

“I’d absolutely call the helpline again in a heartbeat. It was the best thing I ever did. The NSPCC acted straightaway. They didn’t wait 24 hours or a couple of hours. They acted straightaway both times I phoned.”

*Disclaimer: Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity.