The NSPCC has launched a new campaign urging the public to act on doubts about child safety, as new figures show most people wait at least a month before picking up the phone.
In the last six months, 374 people from Scotland contacted the NSPCC with concerns about a child that were considered so serious they warranted immediate action. Of those, over one third had waited at least a month with an additional 26 per cent waiting more than six.
The figures come as a new viral campaign, made by Skins and Billy Elliot director Amanda Boyle, is launched in partnership with parents’ website Netmums.
The campaign, entitled ‘Don’t wait until you’re certain’ mimics a well-known online series but carries a serious message and has already received over 25,000 YouTube hits in its first 72hours online.
The campaign film was inspired by the popular ‘Sh*t Girls Say’ series, which parodies the things girls stereotypically say. The NSPCC clip uses the idea to dramatic effect drawing attention to ‘The $#*! Kids Say’, slang for the familiar ‘kids say the funniest things’.
It features 5-7 year old children, who initially say genuinely funny things typical from the mouth of babes. As the film progresses, the statements become more ambiguous and even uncomfortable to hear – the aim is for the viewer to be unsure if they are funny or actually a bit unpleasant. By the final comments, the statements are clearly upsetting and leave viewers in no doubt their earlier instincts were correct.
Amanda Boyle, who held castings for the film with 5 to 7 year olds in London, Glasgow and Manchester, said: “It has been a privilege to work on such an important campaign, which highlights the very real danger of keeping concerns about a child’s safety to yourself. It’s a thought provoking viral film which we hope will engage members of the public and encourage them to contact the NSPCC. The message is simple: If you’re worried about a child, need advice or want to talk, don’t wait until you’re certain.”
In 2011, a record number of almost 45,000 people across the UK contacted the NSPCC with concerns over a minor. One caller from Scotland contacted the helpline after several weeks of worrying about a child saying: “My concern has been growing over the past three months because of the levels of neglect. Yesterday evening the young child was playing on the street unsupervised. In the past he has walked alone to the park and on other occasions is left in the care of his older siblings”.
Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulous spoke of the positive effects the campaign regarding children’s safety: “We know that 1 in 5 children experience severe maltreatment at some point in their childhood. The impact of abuse can be profound, and the longer it continues the greater the risk of long-term physical and emotional damage. These new figures highlight the reality that children are suffering because adults are waiting too long to report their concerns. We are hopeful that this digital campaign will further break down the barriers that prevent people from contacting the NSPCC, and in doing so will help protect more children.”
The video clip can also be viewed on the Netmums website. Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of the website feels strongly about the film’s message: “This campaign is particularly relevant to our audience as mums come into contact with other parents and children all the time, and are therefore likely to come across situations where they feel concerned but aren’t sure if they are witnessing signs of abuse. We also know that women are twice as likely to contact the NSPCC as men with their concerns.”
The NSPCC’s free 24 hour helpline is staffed by experienced child protection counsellors. They have the knowledge and experience to know when a family needs more help and when a referral to the authorities needs to be made in order to keep a child safe. NSPCC helpline counsellors can be contacted in confidence by calling 0808 800 5000, texting 88858, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.