More Children Being Emotionally Abused

21 June 2017, 07:28 | Updated: 21 June 2017, 08:33

Girl crying - abuse

Reports of children being emotionally abused in Scotland have soared by more than 420% in seven years, according to new figures.

The NSPCC's How Safe Are Our Children? report found that the number of calls to its hotline over the abuse has risen from 83 in 2009/10 to 438 in 2016/17, an increase of 428%.

But the charity is concerned the full scale of the problem could be much greater and has called for an "urgent'' nationwide study into its prevalence across the UK.

Joanna Barrett, acting head of service for NSPCC Scotland, said: "Hearing reports from our Helpline about parents or carers who are consistently verbally assaulting, bullying, isolating or humiliating their children is devastating.

"The huge increase in people recognising and reporting emotional abuse to our Helpline indicates people are willing to take action, but the disturbing truth is that the UK has no idea how many other children are suffering from emotional abuse or in fact, any type of abuse.

"We urgently need the Scottish Government in conjunction with the UK Government to step in now, before another eight years go by, and commission a study that gives us the clearest possible picture of the extent of child abuse and neglect in the UK.''

Helpline staff are hearing accounts of parents telling their children they hate them or wished they were dead, threatening them with extreme violence and blaming them for issues they are facing themselves.

In 2016/17, the charity's child protection experts dealt with 10,009 UK-wide contacts relating to emotional abuse - the equivalent to 27 a day - with 75% deemed so severe they were referred to the police and/or children's services.

Scotland saw 335 of the 438 contacts received from worried members of the public referred to authorities.

The last study into the prevalence of child abuse and neglect was conducted in 2009 by the NSPCC.

Since then there have been significant changes for children's lives, including the increase in reporting of online abuse and big increases in reporting of child sexual abuse.