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The NSPCC has set up a new text service to drive 'on the spot' reports of child abuse to its Helpline. The text number - 88858 - is free and available 24 hours a day.
It comes as an NSPCC poll showed that people are unlikely to report child abuse unless they act immediately. One in five polled in the East of England said they had been concerned a child was being abused or neglected, but many (29%) of those who didn’t report their fears immediately took no action later.
In the NSPCC poll, almost half of adults (43%) in the east of England who had been concerned about a child had not acted immediately because they didn’t know what to do or who to call. Some (29%) said they were worried about being overheard or didn’t want to speak to someone on the phone. Others feared retaliation or were anxious about making a mistake.
Head of region Dan Russell said: "We must pick up on the signs of child abuse as early as possible. Social workers cannot be in the community all the time. By texting the Helpline the public can help be their eyes and ears.
Our new text service - 88858 - is discreet and only takes a few seconds but it could be the difference between life and death for a child.!
Anyone sending a text to the NSPCC Helpline on 88858 will receive an immediate response confirming that their message has been received. This message will also encourage them to call the Helpline on 0808 800 5000, or to contact the police if they think a child is in immediate danger.
A trained NSPCC Helpline counsellor will reply to a text message within three hours, and offer advice, information and assistance. They may ask for additional information about the person’s concerns, or confirm that a referral has been made to the police or social services.
The new text service makes the NSPCC Helpline more accessible, and adds to the existing ways that people can get in touch, by 24-hour freephone (0808 800 5000), by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by making a report online at www.nspcc.org.uk/helpline.
Dan Russell says: "Some people may prefer texting to talking when reporting abuse or seeking advice and information about keeping children safe. However you contact the Helpline, it’s about choosing the right option for you."
In the last year (09/10), the NSPCC Helpline received in the region of 699 calls from the Norfolk area and 792 from the Suffolk area.