Referrals from a helpline about child abuse have risen more than 50% in Scotland since the coronavirus lockdown in March, new figures indicate.
From January 6 to the day before the nationwide lockdown on March 23, the average monthly number of calls reporting concerns about child abuse or neglect passed on to agencies such as the police or social services was 72.
Post-lockdown, this has risen to an average of 113 each month between April and November, an increase of 56%.
During this period, the NSPCC helpline made 907 referrals to agencies in Scotland concerning emotion, sexual or physical abuse or neglect.
Among the callers was one adult concerned about three children believed to be emotionally abused and neglected.
The caller said: “The police were recently called to the family home because the mother was drunk and had left the children at home alone all night.
“The father, who no longer lives with the children, found out and came to the house saying he was going to take the children home with him.
“The children have said they want to move in with me before Christmas because they don’t want to live with their mum or dad.
“They are really worried that their mother’s drinking will get worse over Christmas, as it has done in the past. They need urgent help.”
The charity released the figures as it warned the impact of coronavirus restrictions could put children at further risk of harm over the festive period.
Matt Forde, NSPCC partnerships and development director, said: “The increase in referrals to Scottish agencies from our helpline highlights how some families have been driven to crisis point during the pandemic and, for some children, the home has become an increasingly unsafe place.
“Christmas can be a particularly difficult time, when being stuck at home is an unhappy and traumatic experience. The measures put in place to control the pandemic are likely to exacerbate this.
“It is so important that people have the opportunity to speak up when they think a child is at risk of abuse and neglect. Our helpline for adults and Childline will be open every day over the festive period.”
Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or via 1-2-1 chat on www.childline.org.uk