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Emotional abuse: statistics briefing

Publication date December 2021

How many children experience emotional abuse?

Signs of emotional abuse may go unnoticed by adults in a child or young person’s lives.

It's difficult to measure exactly how many children in the UK experience emotional abuse. However, research with 2,275 young people aged 11-17 about their experiences of emotional abuse suggests around 1 in 15 children in the UK have been emotionally abused.

This briefing looks at what data and statistics are available to help professionals, and the organisations they work for, make evidence-based decisions about emotional abuse.

It includes information from a number of sources such as data from services which work with children and research into children's and adults' self-reported experiences, which help build up a picture of the scale of emotional abuse.

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Key findings from the data

  • Most child abuse includes an element of emotional abuse, but it is recorded as a specific concern for just over 1 in 3 children who are the subject of a child protection plan or on a child protection register in the UK.
  • There were over 11,000 contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline and almost 5,000 Childline counselling sessions in 2020/21 about emotional abuse.
  • There were over 34,000 police-recorded offences related to emotional abuse in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2019/20.

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