More reports of child neglect in Hertfordshire than ever before, says charity
- Credit: Archant
Child abuse charity the NSPCC is dealing with more reports of child neglect in Hertfordshire than ever before in its history.
The NSPCC helpline referred 329 reports of child neglect to Herts police and social services following calls or emails from concerned adults in 2016/17 – that’s an average of six per week. It represents a 55 per cent increase on the previous year and is the highest number the charity has ever had to handle in Hertfordshire.
There were also a further 53 contacts requesting advice about a child possibly facing neglect in the county, up from 29 during the previous year.
According to a report led by Ofsted and published last week, the neglect of older children sometimes goes ‘unseen’ and needs greater understanding and a more co-ordinated approach from local agencies.
Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said: “Older children are still children, and they need our love and care. They face risks outside the home in a way younger children do not, and need parents to provide clear boundaries and support on their journey to adulthood.
“Some older children we saw had been neglected by their parents over many years. These children are incredibly vulnerable. They can seem resilient and appear to be making lifestyle choices, when they are in fact finding unsafe ways of coping, like getting involved in gangs or misusing drugs and alcohol.”
The report calls for ‘a whole system’ approach to identifying and preventing neglect, and better training for professionals in identifying the signs of neglect in older children.
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An NSPCC spokesman said: “Thousands of people contact the NSPCC every year with concerns about a child they know being neglected.
“Neglect can have severe and long-lasting consequences for children’s physical and mental health and can put them at risk of abuse or exploitation.
“We all have a role to play in keeping children safe and no child should become invisible, or be at risk of falling through the cracks, due to their age.
“Anyone who thinks a child is at risk of being ill-treated should contact the NSPCC’s helpline, so we can alert the authorities to quickly step in and help those in need.”
To contact the NSPCC helpline, call 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.