THE NSPCC has reported a significant rise in the number of cases of serious emotional abuse against young people in Scotland.
Last year the charity referred nearly 80 per cent more cases to local authorities in Scotland compared to the previous 12 months.
It said 320 people contacted the charity’s helpline in 2013/14 and 217 of the cases merited alerting police or social work services.
The NSPCC said emotional abuse can take many forms, including pushing children too hard, inflicting degrading punishments and exposing them to drug and alcohol abuse.
As the school holidays approach, the charity is urging people to be extra vigilant to the signs of abuse and neglect.
Matt Forde from NSPCC Scotland said: “Emotional abuse can cause real harm to children and it’s encouraging that more people are becoming aware of it.
“We are now referring an unprecedented number of emotional abuse cases to social work services and the police and we need to ensure these strained agencies are equipped and enabled to protect these children.
“This isn’t about parents who don’t buy their children the latest gadgets or trainers this is about parents who consistently deny their children love and affection.
“Abuse is not just physical but emotional, and people need to be alive to whether children’s emotional needs are being met. Failure to do so can have lifelong consequences.”
Children’s minister Aileen Campbell said: “A secure, loving and nurturing environment is integral to a child’s health, mental health and well-being.
“Helping children to develop the skills required to respond to life’s challenges will allow them to achieve their full potential.
“The recently-passed Children and Young People Act sets out how seriously local and national government take the issue of our children’s welfare.
“Statistics like these are heart-breaking, but they do demonstrate that more of us recognise the immense damage potentially caused by neglect and the steps we are taking to help if we suspect a child is suffering.”
Anyone who has concerns about a child can contact police and their local authority or the NSPCC’s free 24 hour helpline on 0808 800 5000.