ChildLine braced for upsurge in calls following Jimmy Savile abuse allegations
Children’s charity NSPCC received 2,600 calls from Norfolk landlines to its ChildLine service last year – and is preparing for a further upsurge in activity following recent media coverage of child abuse.
Although the 2011-12 figure fell by 445 from the previous year, the charity said this is because more youngsters are using mobile phones or online methods to get in touch, where the geographical origin cannot be identified.
Nationally, the number of calls from all sources rose by 18pc and that trend is expected to accelerate following the recent abuse allegations surrounding the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.
Local NSPCC fundraising manager Christian Morris said: “We are bracing ourselves for a real upsurge in calls because of the amount of media coverage about abuse at the moment. It is encouraging people to speak out about their own experience.
“Also, next year in Norfolk we will be launching a new service in primary schools where a talk is given to children helping them understand what abuse is and how they can get help if they need it. We know this new service will make a huge difference in the fight against abuse and neglect and we hope everyone across the county will join us in standing up for the most vulnerable children in our society.”
Last year, the NSPCC made 297 referrals to the police and social services in Norfolk as a direct result of calls to ChildLine.
Tom Garrod, deputy cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “The safety and welfare of all Norfolk children is our paramount concern and whenever there are reports of abuse, of any kind, we work alongside the police and other agencies, including Childline, to ensure that every allegation is taken seriously and investigated fully.
“We value the work of Childline because it makes a valuable contribution to helping keep our children and young people safe. It also provides them with another opportunity to raise their concerns in confidence or ask for help and advice, and they must always be given any and every opportunity to speak out and report abuse.”
A Norfolk police spokesman said: “Norfolk Constabulary encourages anyone who is the victim of child abuse, or who has information about such abuse, whether current or historic, to come forward. Your information will be treated seriously and in confidence.
“All information on child abuse is assessed through the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub which allows partners to work together and provide the best care and investigation possible.”
Calls from landlines only represent a quarter of the actual number of calls ChildLine receives, which typically relate to problems with family relationships, bullying, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
Mr Morris said he hoped the release of the figures would inspire more local people to volunteer to help raise funds for the charity.
“We all like to think that the abuse and neglect is something that doesn’t happen in our local towns and villages but sadly these figures show that our services are needed,” he said. “We actually have less supporters in Norfolk than we have in a lot of other local counties but, as these figures show, we receive a large number of calls from local children. Any help people can offer us will be very gratefully received.”
For more information about volunteering with the NSPCC, contact Christian Morris on 01353 699745 or email email@example.com.