Record numbers of people have contacted the NSPCC with concerns about child abuse amid a “surge in publicity” about sexual violence against women and girls.
Some 4,735 calls about child sexual abuse or exploitation were made to the charity in the six months to October – up by a third (36 per cent) from the same period in 2020.
The NSPCC said people have felt “empowered to voice their concerns” following widespread media coverage of the issue.
Figures show the charity was dealing with an average of 26 contacts a day from people concerned about a child in the first half of the 2021-2 financial year.
Kam Thandi, head of the NSPCC helpline, said she was “worried that the risk of abuse has gone up since the start of the pandemic, with children more vulnerable and out of sight of the adults who can keep them safe”.
Of the calls received between April and September where the time of the abuse was known, 60 per cent concerned abuse that had taken place more than six months before.
More than 2,100 calls were about abuse that had occurred at least six months ago, compared with 1,456 more recently.
The charity noted that helpline calls relating to other concerns have fallen to pre-pandemic levels while concerns about abuse continue to rise.
Part of the rise, it said, is a result of the Report Abuse in Education helpline it set up in April, with support from the Department for Education.
A Department for Education (DfE) spokesman said: “Child sexual abuse is a despicable crime and every child has a right to be protected. The Government is committed to keeping children and young people safe from all forms of abuse including exploitation.
”The NSPCC’s helpline has provided a vital service for children and adults affected by sexual abuse, which is why we have increased the NSPCC’s core grant to £2.6m to help it continue to meet heightened demand.“
Additional reporting by PA