Sandra McNair, NSPCC Midlands Regional Head of Service, said: “Emotional neglect and abuse cause real harm to children and we are supporting more people than ever before who want a safe, non-judgemental place in which to talk through their concerns.

“As a result of this we are able to recognise the most serious cases and are referring an unprecedented number of emotional neglect and abuse cases to children’s services and the police.”

Emotional neglect and abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child causing severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development.

Today’s figures come as the government considers a new law to tackle the emotional neglect and abuse of children.

The so called ‘Cinderella law’ would update the 1933 criminal offence of child cruelty to include emotional neglect and abuse as well as physical abuse.

“We must ensure we support children’s services and that the police are given better powers to prosecute those who subject children to emotional neglect and abuse,” said Ms McNair.

“That is why the NSPCC supports the proposed changes to the law to tackle this issue. But a law alone is not enough – what we really need to do is work together to prevent this abuse happening in the first place.”

The charity also revealed that helpline practitioners, who listen to people’s child welfare concerns and can take action on their behalf, are being contacted by more people than ever before.

Over 60,000 people have been offered help and support by the helpline in the Midlands this year; an increase of 20 per cent compared to last year.

Anyone who has concerns about a child or wants advice can contact the NSPCC for free 24 hours a day, by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing help@nspcc.org.uk, texting 88858 or using an online reporting form. They can choose to remain anonymous if they wish.

Case Study
In one example of an emotional abuse call to the NSPCC – a member of the public contacted the helpline with concerns about a teenager who was routinely being singled out and belittled by his step-father.

The step-father would become aggressive after drinking and the caller had heard him shout and swear at his step-son and call him ‘useless’.

The teenager’s academic performance was suffering and he’d been suspended for disruptive behaviour.

The helpline counsellor was able to reassure the caller they could remain anonymous and had taken an important step in protecting the teenager.

The conversation enabled the counsellor to ascertain a fuller picture of the teenager’s life and refer the case to children’s services.