One in five adults did not act when concerned about a child being abused or neglected

  • New findings show that 30% of adults have had concerns that made them think a child may be experiencing abuse or neglect.
  • Of these around one in five did not take any action.
  • Feeling unsure if what was happening was abuse and worried about getting it wrong were among the top barriers.
  • The NSPCC is releasing this data as it aims to inspire a million people to take actions that keep children safe through its Listen up, Speak up


Almost a third of UK adults (30%) have had concerns that made them think a child may be experiencing abuse or neglect.

A You Gov survey of 3,999 adults, commissioned by the NSPCC, also reveals that one in five adults who have had a concern did not take any action.

Survey results show that the main barriers that prevented people from acting are:

  • 38% said they weren’t sure what was happening was abuse.
  • 37% said they couldn’t prove it.
  • 32% said they were worried they had got it wrong.
  • 29% thought it would make the situation worse.


The children’s charity is releasing this new data to show why its new campaign is needed.

Listen up, Speak up aims to inspire adults across the UK to play their part in keeping children safe, by taking action to support children and families.

That might mean stepping in to help juggle childcare, providing a listening ear to a struggling teen, or calling the NSPCC Helpline if they think a child is at risk.

Listen up, Speak up involves completing a 10-minute digital training or taking part in a local workshop, either in person or online. Workshops are being delivered in schools, businesses and community organisations across the UK.

Through a series of everyday scenarios, participants learn some of the signs a child might be at risk, how to approach difficult conversations, and who to contact if they are concerned about a child or their family.

A series of follow-up emails will share more advice on how to listen to and support children and families and will introduce some helpful services and resources.

That includes advice on everyday challenges that families may be facing such as bonding with their baby, parental mental health and keeping their children safe online.

So far, more than 25,000 people have signed up to Listen up, Speak up.

The charity is striving to reach one million people and organisations across the UK over the next 10 years, inspiring them to take actions in their community.

Gareth* an NSPCC real life story volunteer who is an advocate of Listen up, Speak up said: “When I was in a perilous position at 5 months old, the community came to my rescue. One lady immediately gave me the baby food I urgently needed. This was followed by presents of clothes from others in the street. One neighbour eventually adopted me.  Along with the authorities, my local community played a vitally important role in my welfare. They didn’t wait or debate or decide it wasn’t their business. They intervened and it meant I am here today.”

NSPCC’s CEO, Sir Peter Wanless, said: “All of us come across children in our daily lives, be this in our neighbourhoods, at our places of work, on our commute or at the supermarket.

“At the NSPCC we understand it can be hard to know what to do in a situation where you have a niggling concern about a child’s wellbeing.

“Findings from our survey show 73% agree that there is a lack of training on what individuals can do to prevent child abuse and neglect, which is where our Listen up, Speak up programme can help.

“In just ten minutes, you can equip yourself with a little bit of knowledge which can go a long way in helping to keep children and young people safe.”

To sign up to the training visit the website.

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