Fighting for childhood in England How we're standing up for children


We stand up for children in England by finding the best ways to prevent abuse and neglect and influencing the Westminster government to take action.

We're committed to finding out what’s working and – more importantly – what isn’t, and what we can do about it. We do this by evaluating the services we provide for children and families and conducting research.

Our findings show that the range of support available to children in England who have been affected by abuse or neglect needs to be improved and we’ll be working with the government and partner agencies to achieve this.


What we're calling for

We published How safe are our children? 2016 in June 2016. It is our fourth annual report compiling the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists across each of the 4 nations in the UK.

Compiling this data is part of our commitment to evidence, to help us to understand the problems we are seeking to address.

We've analysed the data looking at how safe our children are in England and used this to shape our priorities. Read our policy calls below and our England briefing paper (PDF).

As it currently stands we are failing to meet the mental and emotional needs of some of the most vulnerable within society. 98% of the professionals we surveyed said there were not enough therapeutic services for victims of abuse and neglect (NSPCC, 2016).

Without the support they need children who have been abused and neglected are at significant risk of developing social, emotional and psychological problems now and in the longer term.

In response our It’s Time campaign, is calling for an increase in therapeutic services for children who have been abused.

The Government has already committed £1.4bn to improve children’s mental health services (Department of Education and Gyimah, 2015).

We call for the Government to use these funds to ensure the services needed by children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect are available for as long as they need them. 

As a first step towards this, we are asking the Department of Health and NHS England to require local health commissioners to ensure they assess the level of need from children who have been abused and neglected in their communities.

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Children in care are 4 times more likely than their peers to have a mental health difficulty

Explanation: The Office of National Statistics conducted research on the mental health of young people, aged 5-17, looked after by local authorities (Meltzer, H. et al, 2003Meltzer, H et al, 2004a and Meltzer et al, 2004b).

The research found that 45% of looked after children in England, 45% of looked after children in Scotland and 49% of looked after children in Wales had a mental disorder. This included: clinically significant conduct disorders; emotional disorders (anxiety and depression); hyperactivity and less common disorders (pervasive developmental disorders, tics and eating disorders).

This compares to a rate of 10% for children aged 5-16 living in private households in Great Britain. This figure is from research conducted by the Office of National Statistics (Green, H. et al, 2005). Children living in foster care were excluded from this survey.

A child in care is more than four times as likely to have a diagnosable mental health condition. Despite this, only 72% of children have their mental wellbeing assessed upon entry into the care system, and even then these assessments are not always conducted by a mental health professional, nor are they guaranteed to lead to specialist support if a problem is identified (Department for Education, 2015).

In order for every child entering care to get the attention they need we are seeking government commitment to ensure that all children entering care receive a mental health assessment by a trained professional.

There has been welcome progress in tackling the production and distribution of indecent images of children – police recorded offences for such crimes have risen by 69% (see How safe are our children? 2016).

However, the huge increase in the volume of offenders has left local police forces without the resources they need. In some instances forensic analysis of offender’s devices is taking up to a year to analyse, leaving our children vulnerable (HMIC, 2015).

Because of this we are calling for the Government to ensure the police have the resources and technology they need to safeguard our children and tackle these crimes at a local level.

England consultation responses

Our policy team in England respond to government consultations and write briefings to influence the development of policies and laws that affect children and young people. Below are the most recent government consultations we've responded to.

Statistics on child protection in England

Official statistics help tell us how many children have been identified as needing support or protection in England.

See the statistics

How child protection works in England

Find out how the systems and laws of England work to help keep children safe from abuse and harm.

Find out more

Research and resources

The characteristics of children who display harmful sexual behaviour

The needs of children with a learning difficulty, younger children and girls accessing a specialised service for harmful sexual behaviour. Part of the NSPCC’s Impact and evidence series.
Find out more

Turn the page: final evaluation

Final evaluation of a service working with teenage boys who display harmful sexual behaviour. Part of the NSPCC’s Impact and evidence series.
Find out more

It’s Time: campaign report

Why we’re campaigning for every child who has experienced abuse to receive the support they need.
Find out more

More research from England

Find more research and resources from England in our library catalogue.

View research reports

Services for children and families in England

Boy leaning on a climbing frameWe have service centres across the United Kingdom which offer a combination of services to children, families and professionals. We support parents and families in caring for their children and provide therapeutic assistance to help children move on from abuse.

We also provide help and support through the NSPCC helpline, Childline and our work with schools.

What you can do in England

Get expert training and consultancy

Grow your child protection knowledge and skills with CPD certified courses delivered by our experts nationwide and online.

Find out more

Make a donation today

A child will contact Childline every 25 seconds. Donate now and help us be there for every child.

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Follow the official @NSPCC Twitter account

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Find an event near you

From marathon to skydives, bake sales to gala dinners, we've got an event for you in England.

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Follow our official NSPCC Facebook page

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  1. Department for Education (2015) Children looked after in England including adoption: 2014 to 2015. London: Department for Education.

  2. Department for Education and Gyimah, S. (2105) Children and young people’s mental health in schools. 3 December. London: Department for Education.

  3. Green, H. et al (2005) Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004 (PDF). [London]: Office for National Statistics (ONS).

  4. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) (2015) Online and on the edge: real risks in a virtual world: an inspection into how forces deal with the online sexual exploitation of children (PDF). [London]: Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

  5. Meltzer, H. et al (2004a) The mental health of young people looked after by local authorities in Wales (PDF). London: The Stationery Office (TSO).

  6. Meltzer, H. et al (2004b) The mental health of young people looked after by local authorities in Scotland (PDF). London: The Stationery Office (TSO).

  7. Meltzer, H. et al. (2003) The mental health of young people looked after by local authorities in England (PDF). London: The Stationery Office (TSO).

  8. NSPCC (2016) It's time: campaign report. London: NSPCC.