Reports of child neglect to an NSPCC helpline have risen by 60% over a four-year period, according to the charity.
Newly released figures show there were 1,129 calls from people concerned about neglected children in December 2015 – a 60% increase compared to December 2011.
Reports of child sexual abuse increased by 54% over the same period, while reports about emotional abuse were up by 44%.
According to the NSPCC, vulnerable children are often at a heightened risk of abuse in December because they do not have the safety net of the school environment during the Christmas break.
The charity is urging the public to look out for signs of neglect in children – such as if they frequently appear to be poorly clothed and dirty, or if they try to steal food.
Children who are being abused may have physical injuries, appear to be more withdrawn than usual or may be frightened of certain adults.
The NSPCC has also released transcripts of two of the calls it received to its helpline.
One caller made contact to raise concerns about the wellbeing about children who lived nearby, and said: “The mother is holding parties around the house all the time with male strangers in and out of the family home.
“Sometimes I can smell drugs from the house and I know the children are inside.
“The children are always dirty and look undernourished. I’m really worried from them and I feel helpless.”
Another person expressed concern about a young girl she knew who had said “worrying things” about what was happening when she stayed with a male relative.
That caller said: “I think she might be being sexually abused. She recently told me about a game they play at bedtime where her and the adult male get under the covers and that it’s their little secret.
“She has become much more withdrawn in the last year and I wonder if this is the reason. I have tried to raise the concern with family members, but they tell me to mind my own business.”
The chief executive of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, said: “It’s deeply worrying that we are seeing an increase in reports about abuse, but it’s positive that people are vigilant and reporting any concerns they might have about the welfare of a child rather than standing by.”
Source : Sky News