Our third annual state of the nation report: How Safe are our Children? takes an overview of the child protection landscape and compiles the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists across each of the four nations in the UK.
Over the past year, child abuse has rarely been out of the public eye. We've seen the continued fallout from decades of horrendous sexual abuse committed by Jimmy Savile, grooming and trafficking in Rotherham, greater awareness of the dangers of online abuse and a concerted attempt to tackle it alongside an increasing awareness of the impact of emotional as well as physical abuse.
Our reports go further than merely allowing us to understand how many children are being abused and neglected. They also help us to track the progress of how we, as a nation, are dealing with these issues, and remind us of our responsibility to children. Only by monitoring the extent of child abuse and neglect in the UK can we judge whether efforts to prevent maltreatment and to protect children are working.
In some ways this is a watershed moment in the UK. The nations are listening and child abuse is top of the agenda. We need to seize the moment and use this opportunity to help adult survivors who have suffered in silence for years and children who are being abused today to get the help they so desperately need.
Child abuse comes in many forms - from neglect to physical, online to sexual - and at the heart of tackling it lies a need to provide a loving and supportive environment for all children. Listening to them properly when they need to be heard and then helping to equip them with an understanding of abuse and develop resilience against it. Preventing abuse before it can take hold is how, together, we will end cruelty to children.
Crimes against children are now being exposed - past and present - and as individuals, communities and a society we need to ensure that this appalling exercise of power over young people is made very much more difficult, and those who suffer get immediate help and support. Every day the NSPCC is inundated with calls from adults worried about children, while children are contacting ChildLine with increasingly challenging issues. It seems that awareness of child abuse has never been higher, and the feeling that victims who come forward will be believed has never been stronger. It's essential that we meet this heightened sense of hope.
As our report shows, the challenges in keeping future generations safe are myriad and complex. But we at the NSPCC believe abuse can be prevented and damaged lives can be turned around. As a country, we must work together, listen to the voices of those that have suffered, and protect those who cannot protect themselves. Every childhood is worth fighting for.
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