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Children 'hidden victims of lockdown' as calls to helpline spike

By Richard Guttridge | Crime | Published:

Children have been the "hidden victims" of the coronavirus crisis, say campaigners who have taken more than 22,000 calls from concerned adults.

Calls to the NSPCC helpline have soared

The NSPCC in the West Midlands said there had been a "rising tide" of calls over concerns for the wellbeing of children since the pandemic struck.

During April, May and June the charity heard from more than 22,000 adults across the UK.

This is an increase of almost a third on the monthly average for the three months prior to the lockdown with May seeing 8,287 contacts, the highest number ever made to the adult helpline in a single month on record.

The helpline made 2,291 referrals to agencies in the West Midlands such as local authorities or police in April, May and June. Of these, 761 took place in June.

It comes a week after the Education Secretary and MP for South Staffordshire Gavin Williamson set out plans to get young people back to school full-time.

The NSPCC insists the recovery plan must address the "full range" of children’s needs.

The main issues confronting child safety experts across this period were parental behaviour, physical and emotional abuse and neglect, the charity said.

Around 40 per cent of the contacts received were referred on to local authorities or the police for further action, which is also a slight increase on pre-lockdown levels.

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Chief executive Peter Wanless said: “The increase in contacts to our helpline during the lockdown highlights how the home has become an increasingly unhealthy and even dangerous place for some children.

“We must all play our part in supporting children to recover from the mental and physical harm many will have suffered these past few months. Government’s role is crucial, and it must put in place a detailed recovery plan which will support children and young people and make sure they can receive the expert help they need if they have had difficult or damaging experiences.

“Putting children at the heart of recovery planning and taking this action quickly will mean the crisis of the last three months does not scar the childhood of a whole generation.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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