‘Don’t wait if you suspect a child is in danger’

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The NSPCC child protection charity has launched a new campaign urging people not to ignore that niggling doubt about a child’s safety, as concerning new figures show most people wait at least a month before picking up the phone.

In the last six months, 1074 people from the East of England contacted the NSPCC with concerns about a child that were considered so serious they warranted immediate action.

Of those callers nearly a third had waited at least a month before picking up the phone, and another quarter had waited more than six.

TV presenter Kate Garraway said: “Very few people would walk by if they saw a child in danger, and most people who suspect abuse do intend to do something. But sadly many wait far too long.

“They may not be sure, may not want to interfere, or may worry that someone will find out who reported it. But they needn’t worry. The NSPCC’s trained counsellors are available 24/7 to listen to the public’s concerns, and people don’t have to say who they are. We can take responsibility so they don’t have to.”

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulous said: “We know that one in five children experience severe maltreatment at some point in their childhood. The impact of abuse can be profound, and the longer it continues the greater the risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.

“This new figures highlight the reality that children are suffering because adults are waiting too long to report their concerns. We are hopeful that this digital campaign will further break down the barriers that prevent people from contacting the NSPCC, and in doing so will help protect more children.”

Anyone who has concerns about a child or wants advice can contact the NSPCC for free 24 hours a day, by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing help@nspcc.org.uk, texting 88858 or using an online reporting form. They can choose to remain anonymous if they wish.