Calls to child abuse helpline have 'soared' during coronavirus lockdown - these are the signs to be aware of

Calls to NSPCC Cymru have "surged" during the coronavirus lockdown (Shutterstock)

Calls to a children's domestic abuse charity's helpline have "surged" to a record level during lockdown.

NSPCC Cymru said they had on average referred eight cases every week to Welsh policing authorities since the beginning of lockdown in March.

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It said that in some cases that alleged abusers had used the fear of the virus to deny access to children and track the movements of victims.

The charity say they received 1,500 calls from concerned adults between March 23 - the beginning of lockdown - and May 17.

'I'm worried about my baby's safety'

In one case a mother called the NSPCC's helpline concerned for the safety of her baby.

She said that her partner had demanded access to the child, claiming that he wouldn't be able to see the child "until Summer because of lockdown".

She said: "When I refused, he pushed me against the wall and took off with the baby and house keys. I’ve not heard from him since and I’m really worried about my baby’s safety. My ex can be a bit rough when he handles him."

The extended period of lockdown has also seen a surge inc alls due to children witnessing domestic abuse.

The charity said: "The daily nightmare of violence and coercive control can have devastating impacts on children and they need specialist support to recover."

Crisis has shone a spotlight

Vivienne Laing, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for NSPCC Cymru, said that the cornavirus pandemic had highlighted  the "daily nightmare of domestic abuse" suffered by some children/

She said: “This crisis has shone a spotlight on children who are living with the daily nightmare of domestic abuse.

“We know that before the pandemic around one in five children have experienced domestic abuse and it can have a devastating and long-term impact on children’s physical and emotional wellbeing. The increase in calls to our helplines have shown that the pandemic may have intensified the damaging experiences of domestic abuse on children.’

“It is essential that every area of Wales establishes specialist services to provide support for children and young people to enable them to recover from their experiences and that there are sufficient dedicated children workers in both refuge and community services to provide play and therapeutic work while the family is in crisis."

Signs to be aware of

According to NSPCC, common signs that there may be something concerning happening in a child’s life include:

  • unexplained changes in behaviour or personality
  • becoming withdrawn
  • seeming anxious
  • becoming uncharacteristically aggressive
  • lacks social skills and has few friends, if any
  • poor bond or relationship with a parent
  • knowledge of adult issues inappropriate for their age
  • running away or going missing
  • always choosing to wear clothes which cover their body.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child you can call the NSPCC helpline for free on 0808 800 5000. Alternatively you can contact them by email at [email protected]