NSPCC say spending cuts leading to child welfare crisis

Yet another surge of shock and dismay hit the British population this week after a woman in Bexleyheath was convicted of murdering her son.  The child was less than two years old, and had suffered what appeared to be continuous abuse.

The mother, Collette Harris, repeatedly excused his injuries, to doctors and to child welfare agencies, as due to his clumsiness or banging his head on the crib.  Only after the child died, in December of 2008, did the extent and nature of the injuries become known and acknowledged.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Action for Children are two of the organizations lobbying for more efficient and far-reaching action on the part of the new coalition government.

Their concern is partly due to the spending cuts that have been proposed as a means of reducing the national debt.  Some of these cuts would be in the realm of children’s benefits, presumably including those directed towards prevention of abuse.

NSPCC is hoping to get the government to establish some form of cross-departmental structure or a specific department in the Cabinet to deal specifically with child abuse.  Head of campaigns and public affairs and NSPCC, Diana Sutton, said that child services must be a priority and funds should be made available regardless of spending cuts.

Of utmost importance is the prevention of abuse, rather than trying to “pick up the pieces” after the fact.  This approach, says Helen Donohoe of Action for Children, would be much more effective in the long term.   Ms Donohoe believes that early intervention through working with families is the best means of reducing if not eliminating the abuse of children.

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