One of the hidden side-effects of the twelve-month long coronavirus pandemic has been the increased levels of domestic abuse and the effect the lockdowns have had on vulnerable children. Now the latest report from children’s charity the NSPCC has revealed that calls to its helpline have risen to record levels, with nearly 85,000 contacts made in the year to March,2021.
This figure shows an increase of 23% on the previous twelve months, with almost half the calls (47%) resulting in a referral to another agency such as the police or children’s services departments. Over 20,000 contacts, an increase of 42% over the previous year, concerned the behaviour of parents or other adults towards children, and were often linked to alcohol or drug misuse, mental health issues, or domestic violence. Calls also highlighted child neglect, up 15% to nearly 13,000 contacts, physical abuse, up 18% to 12,600 contacts, and emotional abuse, increasing by 40% to 11,600 contacts.
Whilst most children are now back in school and away from some of the intense pressures caused by lockdowns, the effects on their physical and mental health are still being seen. The NSPCC is calling for more government investment to ensure that all vulnerable children can catch up not only on their education but also overcome the physical and emotional harm suffered when they were out of sight during lockdowns. Government should also learn lessons from the pandemic and ensure that steps are taken to keep children safe in the future.
CEO of NSPCC, Sir Peter Wanless said: “The record number of contacts to our helpline reinforces the need for Governments across the UK to put children at the heart of their recovery plans. These must go beyond education and address the harm some have experienced so the pandemic doesn’t leave a legacy of trauma for children.”
The Children and Family Law departments at Bretherton Law have been helping families in Hertfordshire for over 50 years, offering professional, experienced and sympathetic advice to those in need. We are proud to be accredited by the Law Society in Family and Children Law, and are members of Resolution, the organisation representing family lawyers and other professionals in the field.
If you need legal advice in respect of child protection issues please contact Kelly Hicks on 01727 869293, or use the contact form below.