The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children expects a 50 per cent increase in calls over the summer about children suffering from violence as parents and carers cope with the stress of the long holiday.
Yet while it has been the most reported form of abuse for the last five years it is often "taken for granted" and has become overshadowed by concentration on exposing sexual abuse.
Last year physical abuse referrals from June to August rose by half (an average of 246 per month compared with 164 per month for the rest of the year), the NSPCC said. Ill- treatment included being deliberately burned with a kettle, struck on the face with a broom and thrown down the stairs. One caller reported that at 10pm he could hear a child screaming "please don't kill me".
Last year, 10,700 new victims of physical abuse were added to child- protection registers. The largest increase in reporting of violent crime since 1981 has been domestic violence with women and children as the main targets. As well as a hard-hitting advertising campaign, the charity has launched a new public awareness initiative and called on the Government to introduce a co-ordinated approach to help women and children suffering from domestic violence and local authorities to have responsibility for introducing community safety and crime-prevention programmes.
The NSPCC Child Protection Helpline is on 0800 800500. A leaflet, Stop the Violence, is available free from BT shops and NSPCC, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3NH.Reuse content