The NSPCC ‘It’s Time’ campaign has raised important issues around the abuse of children. I had the privilege recently of visiting a NSPCC service and saw first-hand the vital work they do – all funded by charitable contributions.
A recent survey conducted by the NSPCC found that nine in ten professionals feel mental health services for abused children are inadequate, and more than three quarters say it has got more difficult in the last five years to access therapy. This is very concerning as it is appalling that some of the most vulnerable and traumatised children in the country cannot access the support they need. Children who need support are waiting too long for help and thresholds for support are too high.
I have met with children, families and professionals recently to discuss the NSPCC report and have raised the crisis in mental health with ministers and will continue to do so.
I am alarmed that the number of children turning up at A&E because of mental health problem has almost doubled in recent years and that the Government have broken their promise on children’s mental health funding this year. You can read my views on this here and here.
The NSPCC is currently calling for more relevant data to be collected on the number of children who have been abused and in need of these services. The Government has asked statisticians to look at different ways of assessing the data to address the issue. I will follow this development closely. Generally, the Government cannot claim to be meeting the mental health needs of children and young people unless we understand the scale of the challenge.
Crime statistics published in January show the Government is not doing enough to prevent child sex abuse. The figures showed recorded incidents of sexual grooming of children increased by 79 per cent year-on-year and of the 36 per cent rise in recorded sexual offences, 44 per cent were found to be against children. This shows that the approach the Government is taking isn’t working. The root causes need to be dealt with, rather than just dealing with the crime once it has occurred, and appropriate, timely support given to children affected.
I will also continue to support the NSPCC campaign and talk about it publicly. You can see a tweet the NSPCC shared about my support for the campaign here.
No child should be denied the help or support they need. I will continue to press the Government to take action to tackle this growing and very serious problem.