Child abuse on the rise in Scotland
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Sunday 23 November 2008, The Journal Issue 14
The number of children suffering from neglect and physical and emotional abuse has steadily increased in Scotland over the last eight years, new research shows.
On Tuesday 11 November 2008, new figures from the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration’s (SCRA) annual report revealed that in some regions of Scotland one in every ten children is placed in protective care as a result of neglect, violence, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Netta Mciver, the principal chief executive of SCRA, said: “by focusing on the more difficult cases, we are getting a better picture of the problems. But it's a disturbing picture”.
Compulsory supervision orders, the most acute action taken within child abuse cases, have substantially increased over the last year, increasing from 12,644 in 2005-2006 to 13,219 in 2007.
Last year 5,000 children had to be removed from their homes and placed in the care of child service agencies.
Though fewer children are being referred to the SCRA, more extreme cases of child abuse and neglect are being discovered, making it necessary for protective services to intervene.
Glasgow appears to be the area most affected by this steep increase in abuse cases. 9.6 per cent of the total referral rate was reported within the Glasgow area. This number is staggeringly large in comparison to the 1.2 per cent of children who were reported in Perth and Kinross.
The Scottish government guidance define child abuse as when: “children may be in need of protection where their basic needs are not being met in a manner which is appropriate to their individual needs and stage of development and the child is, or will be, at risk through avoidable acts of commission or omission on the part of those holding parental responsibilities.”
The increase in Scotland’s child abuse rates has followed a trend which appears to begin in 2000. Between 2000 and 2001, a total of 28,057 care and protection cases were brought before the Scottish courts.
The figure was an increase of 54 per cent from 1998, and represented a 1700 per cent rise from the 1,576 cases that were handled when the Community Services Act was first introduced in 1972.
In addition, statistics released in April 2008 revealed that 61 children in the Edinburgh area had to be placed on the child protection register because they were being emotionally abused within their households. In comparison to the 2005-2006 statistics, the rate of emotional child abuse has nearly doubled within the city.
There does seem to be some hope that child abuse cases will decline in the future. This assumption is based on continued and more thorough intervention by child protection agencies and Scotland’s council leaders.
In response to the report released in April, councillor Andrew Burns, the spokesmen for Labour children and families claimed: “it is fair to say that reporting mechanisms are now much better used and better understood”.
Mr Burns added: “I don’t take the view that the overall figure is too high. I think it’s better that these issues are being dealt with rather than hidden.”