Child neglect ‘plaguing’ North Somerset as NSPCC reports ‘worrying’ rise
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‘The most hidden form of abuse’ is on the rise in North Somerset, new figures have revealed, with child neglect hitting its highest ever level in the district.
New figures released by the NSPCC show the children’s charity has had to deal with more cases than ever before in North Somerset, with at least one report emanating from the district every week.
The charity refers five cases of child neglect to police and social services in the area every month, with 59 cases reported in the past year.
This represents a five per cent increase on last year.
Sue Johnson, who is a former North Somerset Council care worker, told the Mercury these figures are ‘worrying’.
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She said: “Neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children continues to plague our society.
“From my experience of more than 20 years as a social worker in North Somerset I can tell you neglect can often be the most hidden form of abuse and it can be difficult to provide enough evidence of harm to the wellbeing of a child to justify the need for them to be looked after by the local authority.
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“The general public are often wary of reporting potential neglect of children. After all where do we draw the line between carelessness and temporary inability to care adequately for children and neglect?
“The fact these NSPCC figures are showing a significant increase in reporting of neglect is a very worrying trend.”
But Superintendent Will White, of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said it is positive victims have more confidence in coming forward.
He said: “There are a number of reasons to explain the rise in the number of offences, including increased awareness of this type of crime, an increase in early reporting of offences and an increase in confidence among victims.
“The way these types of crimes are recorded has also dramatically improved, meaning we are unearthing a more accurate picture.”
Julie Campbell, who is the NSPCC’s South West campaign manager added:
“It is good to see the helpline is working but child neglect on the whole is worrying.
“We want to encourage people to come forward if they feel a child is not getting their basic needs.”