Manchester has seen the number of child emotional abuse cases surge by half in the last four years, claims the NSPCC.
The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children released figures today which have shown almost a 50% rise across England and Wales in emotional abuse cases that are so grave they have had to be referred for immediate action from children’s services and the police.
Across Greater Manchester, helpline staff have assisted 398 people who have contacted the NSPCC about emotional neglect and abuse in 2013/2014.
Of these cases, 263 were so serious they had to be referred to local authorities for further action, compared to 190 in 2012/2013 – an overall increase of 38%.
The North West region saw an increase of 43%, with 498 cases being referred this year compared to 348 last year.
Emotional abuse is defined as the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child which causes severe adverse effects, such as conveying that the child is worthless, bullying or ridiculing them.
More cases of emotional abuse are being recorded every year, despite other forms of abuse declining, and there has been nearly a 50% increase in reported cases of emotional abuse since 2009.
In total, more than 60,000 people contacted the NSPCC helpline this year, an increase of 21% since last year.
However, Regional Communications Officer for NSPCC North West Emma Harvey explained that this does not necessarily mean there are more children being abused, she said: “People have an increased awareness of child abuse nowadays.
“High profile cases in the media have alerted people to being more aware of it.”
Action for Children Chief Executive Sir Tony Hawkhead said: “This increase in calls from the public shows both the scale and seriousness of emotional abuse and a heightened awareness of it.
“Action for Children has campaigned for three years to include emotional as well as physical harm in child neglect laws because while emotional abuse may not leave visible scars, its impact on young people can be devastating, leading to life-long mental health problems and, in extreme cases, to suicide.
“A new law would help children living in cruel and unbearable situations.”
The law on neglect is 80-years-old and both the NSPCC and Action for Children are calling for it to be urgently updated.
Today’s figures come as the government considers the ‘Cinderella Law’, which amounted from Action for Children’s three-year campaign.
The proposed law would amend the outdated 1933 Children and Young Persons Act criminal offence of child cruelty to include emotional neglect and abuse, as well as physical.
Image courtesy of apdk with thanks