Councils in child abuse reporting alliance

The Local Government Association and many participating local councils are supporting a new campaign to tackle child abuse and neglect and increase confidence in reporting incidents.

A YouGov survey has found that 26 per cent of adults have worried about the welfare, neglect or abuse of a child, but 42 per cent of those did not report their suspicions to someone with child protection responsibilities. Furthermore, of those questioned with children under the age of 16, 31 per cent had similar worries for a child in their local area, but only 57 per cent went on to take any action to raise their concerns.

The Department for Education, who have launched the new campaign, said that it will ‘improve people’s confidence in spotting the signs of abuse or neglect’. This will be done by informing the public about the different types of child abuse and neglect, educating on how to spot the signs, and reassuring people on how the reporting process works as well as supporting them through it.

Matthew Reed, chief executive at The Children’s Society, said: “No child, whether they are in their teenage years or of pre-school age should have to suffer the pain of abuse or neglect. The Children’s Society’s research has found that young people experiencing neglect are more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives, pessimistic about their futures and lacking in confidence in their abilities.

“Spotting the signs that something is wrong isn’t just a matter for professionals who work with the children, it’s everyone’s responsibility. It is better for anyone to report concerns that eventually prove to be unfounded than to fail to speak out when a child may be at risk.”

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Child abuse is an appalling crime, and helping to protect vulnerable children is one of the most important challenges that councils tackle every day. We will always encourage people to refer any concerns about children to their local authority as soon as possible, so that the situation can be investigated, and support or immediate protection put in place where necessary.

“Councils have a child referred to them every 49 seconds on a daily basis, but councils too often only hear about problems once they’ve become serious. We would urge people to pick up the phone whenever they suspect a child may need support or protection, so that councils can help that child or family access the support they need as soon as possible.”

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