Hundreds of children each week 'suffer abuse and neglect during lockdown'

Fiona Simpson
Monday, April 27, 2020

More than 360 children reported being abused and neglected at home in just one week during lockdown, Childline has revealed, as reports of domestic abuse jumped by half across the UK.

Hundreds of children reported being abused or neglected in just one week. Picture: NSPCC
Hundreds of children reported being abused or neglected in just one week. Picture: NSPCC

The helpline, run by the NSPCC, carried out 663 counselling sessions where children reported experiencing physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect during the week of 17 April. The figure was a fifth higher than the previous week, the NSPCC said.

A 15-year-old girl who called Childline told counsellors: “My parents are physically abusing me – it's happening quite often now since schools closed and I'm really scared. They hit me and often it leaves me with bruises. I really want to get out of the house and be somewhere safe and happy. I'm scared that my parents will get angry and hurt me more if I tell someone." 

The service delivered 1,700 counselling sessions about Covid-19 during April alone, despite being forced to close its night service due to a 30 per cent drop in volunteer hours due to counsellors self-isolating.

The figures come days after a new report by children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield warned that many vulnerable children were “hidden from sight” during the pandemic including children at risk of abuse or neglect.

Responding to the report, the Children’s Society said a drop in social care referrals and small numbers of vulnerable children attending schools was a “big concern”.

On Sunday (26 April) a three-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy were stabbed to death at a house in Ilford, east London.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "A 40-year-old man was also taken hospital and is in a critical condition.

"It is believed that all parties involved were known to each other; all three had suffered knife injuries.

"Although no formal arrest has been made, at this early stage, police are not currently looking for anyone else in connection with this incident."

Meanwhile, Refuge reported a 49 per cent increase in calls to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline since lockdown began on 23 March.

A report, published today (27 April) by the Home Affairs Select Committee report on domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic has called for increased refuge capacity and funding for specialist services.

Chair of the committee and MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Yvette Cooper, warned that witnessing or experiencing domestic abuse could be “particularly hard” for vulnerable children.

“We can't abandon them in the middle of this crisis. The emotional, physical and social scars from domestic abuse can last a lifetime,” she said.

A spokesperson for the NSPCC said: “We are increasingly concerned about the number of children who will experience abuse or neglect due to the impact of coronavirus, with families struggling with lockdown, job losses and school closures.”

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