1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Key Data
  4.  » 
  5. Background factors: Abuse and Trauma
  6.  » Safeguarding and child protection


Abuse and Traumas

The unique nature of adolescence means that young people experiencing abuse and trauma in this phase of life may have different needs to younger children or adults.

One in five people experiences at least one form of child abuse before the age of 16

Safeguarding and child protection 

Terminology between nations differs slightly, though both England and Wales record information relating to children whose safety is an ongoing concern. In England, for example, children can be given a Child Protection Plan (CPP). In Wales, they can be put on the Child Protection Register (CPR). ONS notes that the two sources should not be compared. At 31 March 2019, 17,920 children aged 10 and above in England were subject to a CPP. A further 940 children aged 10 and above in Wales were on the CPR (ONS, 2020a). The most common reason for receiving a CPP or CPR in England and Wales is neglect. These numbers clearly represent a very small fraction of all those experiencing abuse. However they seem to be rising, as Chart 8.6 shows.

The number of children over 10 years who are the subject of a child protection plan has increased in England and Wales

During adolescence the nature of the risks faced by young people, and the way that they experience these risks, often differs from earlier childhood. In addition to the family context, this means schools, public spaces and online platforms. This has been termed ‘contextual safeguarding’ (Firmin, 2020) and many of the data in this section of Key Data can be seen through this lens, including victimisation and violence.

However, it is hard to pin down robust representative data on some aspects of adolescent safeguarding. For example, official estimates of the numbers of young people who are trafficked or are victims of sexual exploitation are very low, because so few cases become subject to official proceedings. Between November 2014 and October 2015, around 9,000 children at risk of child sexual exploitation were identified by police forces across England and Wales (NSPCC, 2017). The average age when concerns are first identified has been suggested to be 12-15 years (Beckett, Holmes and Walker, 2017), and the majority of victims are girls (NSPCC, 2017).

Reports of child abuse, sexual exploitation and neglect were up by 69% by week 10 of the first lockdown in early 2020There have been concerns that the stress and lockdown conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic led to increased abuse of children and young people (Romanou and Belton, 2020). During the first lockdown (April to July 2020), the NSPCC saw an increase in the number and proportion of contacts and counselling sessions to helpline and Childline services about abuse and neglect (NSPCC, 2020). Monthly average calls to the helpline rose from 2,748 to 4,074, and to Childline from 1,325 to 1,619. There is less in the way of official data available currently, partly as a result of a time lag in collection of child protection referrals.

Additional data from Kooth (on-line mental health service) show reports of child abuse, sexual exploitation and neglect were up by 69% by week 10 of the first lockdown in early 2020 (Kooth, 2020). The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) received 44,809 reports from members of the public about child sexual abuse material online between March 23 and July 9 this year, compared to 29,698 reports over the same time period in 2019, an increase of over 50 per cent (NSPCC, 2020).

All data correct as of 1st November 2021