Surge in reports of ‘emotional’ abuse claims in Leeds

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The number of emotional abuse cases being referred by a children’s charity helpline to police and children’s services in Leeds has surged by nearly 84 per cent.

The NSPCC’s anonymous helpline, which supports and offers advice to adults who are worried about a child, has assisted nearly 100 people who have with concerns for children suffering from emotional neglect and abuse this year in the city.

And 79 of those cases were so serious that the charity had to refer cases to local authorities - last year only 43 cases were referred.

Nationally, the number of referrals surged by nearly 50 per cent after 5,354 of the 8,000 calls were deemed to need extra support.

The figures come as the government considers a change to the law to tackle the emotional neglect and abuse of children.

The so called “Cinderella law” would update the 1933 criminal offence of child cruelty to include emotional neglect and abuse as well as physical abuse.

John Cameron, NSPCC’s head of child protection operations, said:“Emotional neglect and abuse cause real harm to children.

“We are referring an unprecedented number of emotional neglect and abuse cases to children’s services and the police.

“We must recognise extreme emotional abuse for what it is - a crime - and those who carry it out should be prosecuted.”

Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, added:“This increase shows both the scale and seriousness of emotional abuse and a heightened awareness of it.

“Action for Children has campaigned for three years to include emotional as well as physical harm in child neglect laws because while emotional abuse may not leave visible scars, its impact on young people can be devastating, leading to life-long mental health problems and, in extreme cases, to suicide. A new law would help children living in cruel and unbearable situations.”

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