Ten tell-tale signs of childhood abuse

The NSPCC has released a list of ten tell-tale signs a child might be in an abusive home to encourage people to stay alert during the lockdown.

The NSPCC helpline responded to 1,500 calls about domestic abuse from across the UK between 23 March and 17 May 2020, resulting in 57 referrals being made to local agencies in the North East and Cumbria.

Warning signs include children:

  • Showing uncharacteristic aggression. Younger children may try to physically harm other people and animals
  • Having knowledge of adult issues inappropriate for their age
  • Becoming withdrawn or anxious, and lacking social skills
  • Coming across as attention seeking when around adults
  • Crying for long periods of time
  • Shouting, hitting or things being broken
  • Showing effects of poisoning, such as vomiting, drowsiness or seizures
  • Choosing to wear clothes which cover their body, or with visible wounds or bruises
  • Changing in weight or growth, or having a swollen or thin tummy
  • Very young being children left alone or are outdoors by themselves

Felicity Aspinall from the NSPCC helpline said: "Sometimes people don’t call straight away because they’re not sure if what’s happening constitutes abuse. But we need people to call us as soon as they become concerned, no matter how big or small they believe the concerns to be, as this can be the missing piece to a jigsaw of a bigger picture which can make all the difference to a child.”

'Help us look out for vulnerable children', urges mayor

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Tom Hull/NSPCC

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees has appealed to residents to help the city's most vulnerable children, after a spike in calls to an NSPCC helpline.

Childline delivered 363 counselling sessions to young people across the country suffering physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect last week – up nearly a fifth on the previous seven days.

In the last three weeks it has spoken to more than 1,700 young people who got in touch with concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, as families struggle with job losses and school closures.

Bristol’s mayor urged people to be vigilant and help the city council look after children at risk of or experiencing abuse.

He said: “We know there is going to be an issue around child safeguarding across the country and in Bristol. We have seen a drop in the number of referrals to children’s services in the city and yet only over the weekend Childline has said it had seen a sharp increase in the number of calls to its service.

“We recognise that families are trapped, stressed, all those dynamics, so we are asking the population to be vigilant and to help us look after our children. We have our social workers and our children’s services reaching out and making contact with those families but we would really welcome the support of people in the city as well.”

He said anyone with concerns about a child’s welfare should contact the city council’s We Are Bristol freephone Covid-19 helpline 0800 694 0184 or email coronavirus@bristol.gov.uk