Child abuse more than doubles in NI
The number of child cruelty and neglect cases has more than doubled in five years in Northern Ireland.
Police recorded 500 instances of adults mistreating, neglecting or assaulting young people last year, the NSPCC said.
Potential reasons for the rise included greater public awareness and increased incidents because of pressure on families.
Neil Anderson, head of NSPCC NI, said: “To see the number of neglect and cruelty offences rise so dramatically is disturbing but sadly not surprising.”
In Northern Ireland, there were 500 child cruelty and neglect offences recorded by police in 2018/19, more than double from 184 in 2013/14.
Reports included extreme cases of when parents or carers deliberately abandoned or exposed their child to serious harm and unnecessary suffering.
In 2018/19, the NSPCC’s adult helpline dealt with 984 child welfare contacts in Northern Ireland and neglect was the second most common reason for referral.
Mr Anderson added: “Greater public awareness and increased incidents because of pressure on families could be factors in these increases, but deeper societal issues such as increasing pressure on parents could also be leaving more children vulnerable and exposed to pain and suffering.
“Childline never stops and never sleeps, but for this to continue we need the public’s support and to back our ‘Light for Every Childhood’ Appeal.”
The charity is running its Light For Every Childhood Christmas Appeal to raise awareness. Landmarks will be lit up around the UK in support, including Belfast Castle.