29/08/2014 12:24 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Would You Help A Lost Child? Adults Are Too Scared Of False Accusations


If you saw a child alone and lost, would you help? Of course? Without a doubt? Well, it seems you're in the minority.

Nearly two thirds of us would hesitate to help a child who was lost due to fears of being falsely accused, a new study from the NSPCC has found.

In the research from the children's charity, 64), said they would rather stay close by and observe what happened to the child – almost as many who said they would approach the child and help.

One in three people polled said they had been in that situation, and had been faced with a lost child.

The fear of being wrongly accused or someone misreading their intentions was the most common reason people gave for not wanting to help a child – with men (3 of women.

Nearly half (44 admitted they would be worried about reporting it over fears of making a mistake.

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Peter Watt, director of the NSPCC helpline, said: "In many ways this survey is positive. People are increasingly willing to act if they suspect a child is being abused or neglected. Sadly though, whilst the right intention is there, people naturally hesitate.

"They fear making a mistake or they want to wait until they have more evidence, which usually never arrives.

"And, for men in particular, they worry their motives for approaching a child will be questioned. We need everyone to understand that taking action is always the right thing to do – whether it's a lost child in the street or an abusive neighbour.

"This is especially important during the long school holidays as vulnerable children are more likely to need the public's help."

The charity urged people to use its helpline if they are unsure about what action to take.

Peter added: "The benefits of the NSPCC helpline are that it's free, 24/7, confidential and you can call us if you are unsure.

"Our trained and experienced counsellors will know what to do and can take the burden off you. It may save a child or help a family get the support they need to improve and stay together happily and safely. And no one will ever know you made the call."

Since the coverage of high-profile cases, Peter said the helpline has seen calls increase by 20%.

He added: "The helpline has seen a surge in calls since child abuse issues hit the headlines in recent months and with each call costing £5 to answer we need to ask the public to dig deep."

More on Parentdish: What would you do if you saw a little girl lost and alone? Watch this video