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Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
Child murder rate 'a national disgrace'
The NSPCC's new campaign
The NSPCC is launching a new awareness campaign
Urgent reforms of the child protection system are needed to cut child killings, according to the NSPCC.

The charity has described the number of children who die through abuse as "a national disgrace."

A new campaign will highlight how parents are responsible for nearly 80% of child murders in England and Wales.


Over the last 30 years, hundreds of children have been beaten, starved, burned, suffocated, poisoned, shaken, strangled or stabbed to death by their parents

Mary Marsh
Director NSPCC
The campaign features a series a posters showing empty parts of a house with street signs reading Bedroom, Stairs and Hallway.

The images are designed to show that more children die in the home than in the street.

The campaign includes a poll showing more than 70% of parents are now more concerned for their children's safety after the deaths of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

The NSPCC said even though most child murders occurred in the home, 63% believed children were more likely to be killed by someone outside the family.

The charity's director Mary Marsh said while the "vast majority" of children were well looked after at home, hundreds had died through abuse.

"Over the last 30 years, hundreds of children have been beaten, starved, burned, suffocated, poisoned, shaken, strangled or stabbed to death by their parents," she said.

Concern

"The level of child abuse killings in this country is a national disgrace.

"There has rightly been a huge groundswell of concern since the terrible killings of Holly Wells, Jessica Chapman and Milly Dowler.

"The NSPCC shares that concern. Yet people should realise that most children are killed at home by their parents."

The charity wants to see better co-ordinated efforts between local health and social workers - grouping together to form local Child Safeguarding Teams.

National Child Safeguarding Boards in England and Wales should be established to oversee the work of agencies and more training and resources should be given to make sure those working with children have "the skills, experience and tools to do the job".

Inquiry

Ms Marsh said: "The government must reform the child protection system to make it fit for the 21st Century. We need to ensure that no more children slip through the net."

Last month, Leanne Labonte, 20, and Dennis Henry, 39, were jailed for killing their two-year-old daughter Ainlee Walker who "lost the will to live" after being starved and tortured.

Her body had 64 injuries, including at least 10 cigarette burns, scalded feet and scratches when she was found at the family's squalid home in Plaistow, east London.

She was never put on a local "at risk" register although local agencies had concerns about her from birth.

After the couple's Old Bailey trial closed, social services launched an inquiry into Ainlee's care.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Liz Aitkens, NSPCC:
"We want to set reforms to the child protection system"
See also:

07 Mar 02 | N Ireland
08 Dec 01 | England
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