MORE than 350 children in Wigan borough are currently known to be in danger of abuse or neglect, a charity has warned.
Some 361 children in the borough are under child protection plans - only Oldham (389) had a higher number per head of population.
The NSPCC says 3,561 children in the region are currently on child protection plans – meaning social workers are concerned they are at risk of sexual, physical or emotional abuse.
And the NSPCC has warned this figure is likely to be the tip of the iceberg – estimating that for every one child known to social services, another eight are being abused or neglected in secret.
Revealing the figures, the NSPCC has called the situation in Wigan and across Greater Manchester ‘disturbing’ – and says more needs to be done to prevent abuse happening rather than picking up the pieces afterwards.
The figures are based on the number of child protection plans currently in action, set up by social services where there are concerns children are at risk of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or could be neglected.
NSPCC regional head of service Bernadette Oxley, said: “Abuse and maltreatment can have a devastating effect on a child’s mental and physical health so it is important these children have access to the support they need to overcome their experiences.
“When we discover abuse we must do everything we can to protect children from further harm and help them recover. But child protection services are already working to meet high demands, so we must prevent abuse from happening to so many children in the first place. By identifying and supporting vulnerable children and their families early we can stop abuse before it starts and set a new course to give children a brighter, happier future.
“We are working closely with statutory services and other partners in Greater Manchester to develop services that are based on some of the best models of child protection in the world.”
The Family Smiles programme is just one of the preventative services which the NSPCC offers in Manchester to prevent children experiencing abuse or neglect. The impact of parental mental illness on family life can be experienced in a variety of ways. Often families cope but if things become difficult parents don’t always make the link between their illness and the harm it can do to their children.
Family smiles helps both parent and child talk more openly about how things are for them. It aims to ensure children can live safely with parents who suffer from a range of conditions and know who they can contact for help.
To find out more about the services the NSPCC offers to local children and families or how you can support the charity’s work visit www.nspcc.org.uk