CALLS to NSPCC Scotland’s helpline for adults concerned about a child rose by 30% last year, according to new figures.
NSPCC Scotland said that there was a 44.5% increase in referrals made to social work services or police in Scotland.
Of 1,920 calls to the helpline from people in Scotland last year, around 60% were sufficiently serious to merit a referral to police or social services.
The charity said that 1,166 referrals were made in 2012/13, involving 1,807 children in Scotland.
Half of Scottish callers in 2012/13 had waited over a month to report their concerns and a further quarter had delayed speaking out for more than six months.
The charity urged people to act quickly if they are concerned about a child.
Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland, said: “These figures demonstrate very clearly the important role of the NSPCC helpline in identifying families and children in need of support in Scotland.
“Without the willingness of friends, families and communities to take action, children affected by abuse and neglect might never enjoy the childhood they deserve.
“Last year, the majority of those whose contacts resulted in a referral were members of the public (59%).
“Given the need for each and every one of us to take responsibility for child protection, this is certainly heartening.
“We would urge anyone with concerns to reach out immediately and it’s important to understand that if you are mistaken, a family will not be separated.
“Trained and experienced child protection practitioners will tactfully investigate before any action is taken. You can’t be expected to know for certain and that’s where the NSPCC can help.”
The leading cause for referrals in Scotland in 2012/13 was neglect (46%), with physical abuse and sexual abuse also reported as significant concerns.
Mr Forde said: “It’s vital that we move away from the sense that picking up the phone or reporting concerns online is ‘telling tales’, when in fact it’s potentially saving a child from abuse.
“Of course no-one wants to make a mistake that would harm a child or family, however these fears can be problematic if they become a barrier to helping someone who’s incredibly vulnerable and just needs someone to be brave enough to speak out.
“The helpline isn’t just for reporting concerns, it’s also there for anyone who feels they could do with some advice or support.”
Anyone worried about a child, or in need of support, can contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or email firstname.lastname@example.org 24/7. Calls can be anonymous.