Children living in rat infested houses and drunk parents leaving hungry children to fend for themselves - cruelty and neglect in Cambridgeshire more than doubled in last three years
- Credit: Archant
Child cruelty and neglect cases which ‘wreak havoc on a child’s brain development’ have more than doubled in the last three years in Cambridgeshire, the NSPCC has revealed.
Starving and dirty children, young people living in rat-infested homes, drunk parents and children left to fend for themselves were among problems which the charity says “do not belong in the 21st century.”
Colin Peak, of NSPCC East of England, said: “Many of these lonely, frightened, children have to resort to desperate measures to survive after being left to fend for themselves and it shames our nation that these numbers are so high.
“Neglect is the most common form of abuse in the UK and can wreak havoc on a child’s brain development, emotional well-being, ability to form relationships, and mental health.
“These children are more likely to suffer from depression and post-traumatic disorder and even suicidal thoughts. For some, neglect can be fatal.
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“It’s an unacceptable situation which must be remedied. We can only do that by looking out for vulnerable children and making sure that they are given the right support to prevent longer term damage.”
There were 55 offences in the county in 2014-15 compared to 23 in 2012-2013.
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Neglect features in six out of ten serious case reviews undertaken when a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse is believed to have been a factor.
It’s unclear why the figures have risen so dramatically, but greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be factors, Mr Peak said.
• A 14-year-old boy who called the NSPCC’s ChildLine service said: “I know it sounds disgusting but sometimes I feel like eating pet food because it’s all there is in the house. But I just drink water to make me feel full-up instead. My teacher has asked why I’m dressed in dirty clothes and why I never have any lunch money and I don’t know what to say.”
• A 13-year-old told how he was forced to steal because he was so hungry: “My mum goes out every weekend to the pub. She doesn’t seem to care about me or my brother. There is never any food at home and when we ask for something to eat she gives us cereal. I’m always feeling tired and can’t concentrate – I only ever think about food when I’m at school. Sometimes I steal packed lunches from the other kids because I know I probably won’t get anything at home.”
•.Children can contact ChildLine 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk.
• Adults can share concerns about a child 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0808 800 5000 or texting 88858.