How safe are our children?

Last updated: 04 Sep 2018 Topics: Safeguarding and child protection

The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK

Our annual report compiles and analyses data from across the UK to show the current child protection landscape.

Each report in the series looks at the available data for up to twenty indicators to answer the question 'how safe are our children?' from different perspectives. The reports also include historic data to help track progress over time and focus in on a specific issue or data set.

"Our How safe are our children? report equips all of us with the latest and most robust child protection data that exists across the four nations in the UK."
Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO

Key findings from 2018 

Our most recent report found:

  • increases in police-recorded child sexual offences across the UK
  • increases in child cruelty and neglect offences in all UK nations except Scotland
  • increased numbers of children on child protection plans and registers over the last decade.

This year the report took a closer look at how safe children are online finding:

  • almost a quarter of young people were contacted online by an adult they did not know
  • over 3,000 crimes have been recorded by the police since the offence of communicating indecently with a child was introduced in England and Wales in April 2017. 

Key policy calls from 2018 

Following the Government’s commitment to bring in laws to protect children online in 2018, the NSPCC is calling for the legislation to:

  • commit social media firms to follow a consistent set of minimum safeguarding standards
  • make platforms report on how they keep children safe
  • carry consequences for platforms that don’t follow safeguarding rules
  • make platforms take proactive steps to prevent exposure to illegal content and behaviour.

Authors: Holly Bentley, Andy Burrows, Laura Clarke, Abbie Gillgan, Jazmin Glen, Maria Hafizi, Fiona Letendrie, Pam Miller, Orla O’Hagan, Priya Patel, Jessica Peppiate, Kate Stanley, Emily Starr, Nikki Vasco and Janaya Walker

Please cite as: Bentley, H. et al (2018) How safe are our children? The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK 2018. London: NSPCC.

Previous reports

Previous 'How safe are our children?' reports

How safe are our children? 2017

The fifth report included findings from the Crime survey for England and Wales about adults’ experiences of abuse in childhood and called for a new prevalence survey of children’s experiences of abuse and neglect.

> Download How safe are our children? 2017 (PDF)

How safe are our children? 2016

The fourth report highlighted the need for more therapeutic support for children who have experienced abuse and neglect.

> Download How safe are our children? 2016 (PDF)

How safe are our children? 2015

The third report highlighted rising reports to the police of child sexual abuse, whilst stressing that we must not lose sight of the risks posed by other forms of abuse, in particular neglect.

> Download How safe are our children? 2015 (PDF)

How safe are our children? 2014

The second report included a new indicator about public attitudes to child abuse and neglect. It also included sections on risk factors for abuse and neglect and the criminal justice response to child sexual abuse.

> Download How safe are our children? 2014 (PDF)

How safe are our children? 2013

The first report set out 19 indicators related to child abuse and child safety. It looked at the gap between the number of children in the child protection system and the number that have experienced abuse or neglect.

> Download How safe are our children? 2013 (PDF)