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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Rise in children 'at risk' cases
Children in silhouette
The executive said there was better identification of those at risk
The number of youngsters put on "at risk" registers because of possible sex abuse has risen by a third over a year, new figures have shown.

The number of children registered because of physical injury was up 24%, physical neglect up 20% and emotional abuse up 18%.

The public has been urged to remain vigilant and report any concerns.

The Scottish Executive said the rise could be due to better identification of those at risk.

More than 80% of those on the register are under the age of 11 and have suffered physical harm, neglect, emotional and sexual abuse.

The figures showed that 2,791 children across Scotland were on the latest register because of abuse or the risk of abuse compared to 2,294 the previous year - a 22% increase.

Our child protection programme has achieved a great deal, including helping to increase understanding of child protection issues
Robert Brown
Deputy Education Minister

In the 12 months to March, 301 children were placed on registers because of sex abuse or the risk of sex abuse, up from 226 the previous year.

There were similar rises in children placed on registers for physical injury, up to 779, and physical neglect, up to 1,243.

The figures highlight the situation in Glasgow, which is said to have seen a rise in the number of cases of neglect, suffered by the children of drug addicts.

Officials said some of the increase was because of changes in the way the figures were calculated, and some was down to better identification of children at risk.

Deputy Education Minister Robert Brown said a bill had been introduced this week to ensure agencies shared information about those who may be at risk.

"No child should have to suffer the horror of abuse," he said.

"Any who do must be quickly identified and get the help they need to ensure that they are safe and protected.

"These statistics tell us that this is happening.

"Our child protection programme has achieved a great deal, including helping to increase understanding of child protection issues. This is a complex area, and it is not always easy to spot abuse where it occurs."

'Crisis management'

Mr Brown said there was now better guidance for agencies and a framework for standards made it clear what children and their families could expect.

The Scottish National Party said the "shocking" increase in referrals showed a huge problem.

Fiona Hyslop
Fiona Hyslop said there should be more early intervention

SNP education spokeswoman Fiona Hyslop said; "Services are having to deal with crisis management rather than early intervention.

"Hard-pressed social workers and local authorities are being stretched beyond the limit."

She said councils were facing a shortage of funding for social work services for children.

Margaret Mitchell, the Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, said: "Anyone who abuses any child must face the full consequences of their actions, because quite rightly the public deplore such depravity and our criminal justice system must ensure they are caught, punished and not freed to strike again.

"There have been too many recent examples where bail or early release have let dangerous people roam the streets and potentially reoffend."

She added that those who had been abused should be encouraged to speak up against their attackers and looked after properly.




SEE ALSO
Child protection drive launched
15 Sep 06 |  Tayside and Central
Scheme to improve abuse services
07 Sep 06 |  Tayside and Central
Family services 'overstretched'
06 Sep 06 |  Scotland

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