ALMOST 60 referrals were made to police or children’s services in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area between 2011-12.
The statistic was revealed by the NSPCC who were launching their first nation-specific ‘Helpline Highlight’.
In total 58 referrals were made.
Margaret Gallagher, local campaigns coordinator for the NSPCC in Northern Ireland, said that delays in reporting concerns may contribute to the undue distress and suffering of a child experiencing abuse or neglect:
“We understand that it’s incredibly difficult to pick up the phone, and we are really grateful to those people who do take action when they have concerns. People clearly have the desire to act but are unsure how or when to do it. What we would emphasise is that trained professionals assess the information given and either give advice and support to the caller or make a referral to children’s services or police if required. You can’t be expected to know for certain and that’s where the NSPCC can help.
“Many of the children whom adults contact us about are not known to existing services. Most of the referrals made by the helpline concerned neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse, and largely originate from adults who might otherwise contact no other agency.
“The majority of contacts leading to referrals came from members of the public, not from family members or professionals. While many of the contacts to the helpline simply result in our counsellors providing child protection advice and guidance to parents, relatives, friends and members of the public, the key message we want to send is ‘Don’t Wait Until You’re Certain’.”
The NSPCC Helpline is a telephone and online service for adults who are concerned about the welfare of a child or young person. It provides adults with advice, guidance and support, and can take action on their behalf if they have concerns about a child who is either being abused or is at risk of abuse.
Contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 (free from a landline), firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.nspcc.org.uk/helpline or text 88858.