Child cruelty offences in Northern Ireland jump more than a third in a single year

· New data reveals 681 crimes recorded of adults neglecting, mistreating, or assaulting children, in Northern Ireland last year, an average of two per day.

· NSPCC Northern Ireland releases the findings on ‘Childhood Day’ to highlight the importance of everyone playing their part in keeping children safe.

· Thousands of people are getting behind the NSPCC’s Childhood Day today, with communities across the UK hosting fundraising events and schools taking part in the Big Breaktime.

The NSPCC today revealed that child cruelty and neglect offences increased by more than a third last year across Northern Ireland. Figures from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) reveal that there were 681 offences recorded in 2021/22 cross the country, which is a 35% rise from last year. This is an average of two offences per day.

NSPCC experts warned at the start of the pandemic that an increase in stressors to parents and caregivers, coupled with an increase in children’s vulnerability, and a disruption in normal protective services would lead to an increased risk of abuse.

The children’s charity says it is “acutely aware of the pressures on children’s social care in Northern Ireland”, but is urging that “vulnerable children are prioritised and that a functioning Executive is urgently needed to make sure this happens”.

As thousands of people come together today to back the NSPCC’s Childhood Day, the charity is emphasising that everyone has a responsibility to keep children safe from abuse and neglect. It is calling on communities to play their part in a collective effort and is encouraging people to contact the NSPCC with any concerns they have about a child, even if they are unsure and want to get advice, to learn the NSPCC Helpline number and support Childhood Day by making a donation to the charity.

Childhood Day is the NSPCC’s flagship day of fundraising and action that takes place on the second Friday in June every year.

NSPCC Northern Ireland Assistant Director, Bronagh Muldoon, said:

“We need to see major improvements in child protection – we owe that to the children of Northern Ireland. But our message isn’t just for politicians. It’s important to remember that abuse can be prevented and as thousands of people get behind Childhood Day, they demonstrate an understanding that we all have a responsibility to play our part to prevent abuse and neglect.

“We also urge anyone with concerns about a child, even if they’re unsure, to contact the NSPCC Helpline to speak to one of our professionals. People can call 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk or fill in the online form.”

Following the launch of Childhood Day in April, the NSPCC has been encouraging people to volunteer at cash collections across Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK in May and early June, take part in the Big Breaktime, fundraise by hosting an event in their community or donate to the charity. The Big Breaktime is an extra hour of play, which schools and nurseries are taking part in, where children and staff can remember the special things about childhood, while raising vital funds for the charity.

People can still get behind Childhood Day today and support the NSPCC by donating at nspcc.org.uk/donate

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