National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

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National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
NSPCC logo.png
Founded 1884 (as the London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children)
Registration no. 216401
Coordinates 51°31′23″N 0°04′50″W / 51.523174°N 0.080502°W / 51.523174; -0.080502
Area served
United Kingdom and the Channel Islands
Product Campaigning and working in child protection
Key people
Mark Wood
Peter Wanless
(Chief executive)
£157.5 million
Approx. 2,500[1]
Slogan "Every childhood is worth fighting for"

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is a charity campaigning and working in child protection in the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands.


On a trip to New York in 1881, Liverpool businessman Thomas Agnew (1834–1924) visited the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. He was so impressed by the charity that he returned to England determined to provide similar help for the children of Liverpool. In 1883 he set up the Liverpool Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (LSPCC). Other towns and cities began to follow Liverpool's example, leading in 1884 to the founding of the London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (London SPCC)[2] by Lord Shaftesbury, Reverend Edward Rudolf and Reverend Benjamin Waugh. After five years of campaigning by the London SPCC, Parliament passed the first ever UK law to protect children from abuse and neglect in 1889. The London SPCC was renamed the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1889,[2] because by then it had branches across Great Britain and Ireland.

The NSPCC was granted its Royal Charter in 1895, when Queen Victoria became its first Royal Patron. It did not change its title to "Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children" or similar, as the name NSPCC was already well established, and to avoid confusion with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), which had already existed for more than fifty years. Today, the NSPCC works in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the Channel Islands. The NSPCC's organisation in the Republic of Ireland was taken up by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), founded in 1956 as a replacement for the NSPCC.[3] The NSPCC is the only UK charity which has been granted statutory powers under the Children Act 1989, allowing it to apply for care and supervision orders for children at risk. The charity is regularly audited and publishes its annual report and accounts as required by the Charity Commission.[4][verification needed] In 1983, the NSPCC launched its centenary appeal in Britain in order to "establish 60 child protection teams across the country." The launch of the appeal occurred during a time when the organization was struggling because of an insufficient amount of public support and government funds. To help advertise for the NSPCC, a poster was created that highlighted the faces of two abused children, one from 1884 and the other from 1984. The message that was written along with the picture was "The faces change, the bruises don't."[5]


The NSPCC's stated core values are based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

They are:

  • Children must be protected from all forms of violence and exploitation
  • Everyone has a responsibility to support the care and protection of children
  • We listen to children and young people, respect their views and respond to them directly
  • Children should be encouraged and enabled to fulfil their potential
  • We challenge inequalities for children and young people
  • Every child must have someone to turn to


NSPCC Head Office

The NSPCC lobbies the government on issues relating to child welfare, and creates campaigns for the general public, with the intention of raising awareness of child protection issues. It also operates both a helpline on 0808 800 5000, for anyone concerned about a child, and ChildLine offering support to children themselves. Childline became a part of the NSPCC in 2006. In addition to the telephone helplines, NSPCC provides an online counselling service for children & young people at ChildLine.[6][verification needed][7]

The NSPCC runs local service centres across the UK where it helps children, young people, and families.[8] Since 2009, the NSPCC has run a Child Protection Consultancy service aiming to make organisations safer for children. This offers training and consultancy to organisations which have contact with children, ranging from schools to sporting bodies. The charity works through local safeguarding children's boards (LSCBs), where the police, health, social and education services and others can work together.

Campaigning and controversy[edit]

In 2011 the NSPCC launched its All Babies Count campaign to highlight the vulnerability of babies and calling for better and earlier support for new parents.[9] In 2012 the charity won a PRCA award for its Don't Wait Until You're Certain campaign that encouraged people to call the NSPCC with any worry about a child.[10]

The NSPCC's campaigning role has often been controversial. The Guardian reported New Philanthropy Capital recently concluded that its campaigning is "flawed and naïve" and that there is "zero evidence" that £250m the NSPCC has spent on its recent "Full Stop" campaign actually benefited any children.[11] The NSPCC also received complaints, amongst other things, for "cold" mailing young mothers with a "babies' names" booklet containing instead a detailed list of the deaths of babies.[12]

In recent years, the charity has faced criticism for its stance on contact visits to children following parents' separation. The NSPCC has consistently opposed an automatic right of contact for both parents, arguing that this is not necessarily in the best interests of the child. This stance has led to criticism both in Parliament[13] and by the fathers' rights group Fathers4Justice. In 2004, the London headquarters of NSPCC were briefly invaded and occupied by Fathers4Justice supporters, claiming that the NSPCC "ignores the plight of 100 children a day who lose contact with their fathers" and that they promote a "portrayal of men as violent abusers."[14]

The NSPCC also faced criticism for failing (along with other organisations) to do enough to help abuse victim Victoria Climbié and prevent her death, and also for misleading the inquiry into her death.[15]

The organisation has faced further criticism for its allegedly increasing obsession with publicity and advertising, for fear mongering[16][17] and supposedly fabricating or exaggerating facts and figures in its research. In an article on Spiked, Frank Furedi professor of sociology at the University of Kent, branded it a "lobby group devoted to publicising its peculiar brand of anti-parent propaganda and promoting itself."[18]

David Hinchliffe, Labour MP, supported expenditure on campaigning, stating that the NSPCC's role should be about raising awareness,[19] whilst Conservative MP Gerald Howarth described it as "completely incompetent" although he cited the charity's support for reducing the homosexual age of consent to 16 as the reason for him withdrawing his support for the Full Stop campaign.[19]

Satanic ritual abuse scandal[edit]

The NSPCC documented allegations of Satanic ritual abuse in 1990, with the publication of survey findings that, of 66 child protection teams in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 14 teams had received reports of ritual abuse from children and seven of them were working directly with children who had been ritually abused, sometimes in groups of twenty.[20] An investigation into SRA allegations by the British government produced over two hundred reports, of which only three were substantiated and proved to be examples of pseudosatanic abuse, in which sexual abuse was the actual motivation and the rituals were incidental.[21][22]

The NSPCC also provided a publication known as Satanic Indicators to social services around the country that has been blamed for some social workers panicking and making false accusations of sexually abusing children.[23] The most prominent of these cases was in Rochdale in 1990 when up to twenty[24] children were taken from their homes and parents after social services believed them to be involved in satanic or occult ritual abuse. The allegations were later found to be false. The case was the subject of a BBC documentary which featured recordings of the interviews made by NSPCC social workers, revealing that flawed techniques and leading questions were used to gain evidence of abuse from the children. The documentary claimed that the social services were wrongly convinced, by organisations such as the NSPCC, that abuse was occurring and so rife that they made allegations before any evidence was considered.[25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Media Centre – FAQs". NSPCC. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  2. ^ a b "About the NSPCC". Archived from the original on 20 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  3. ^ The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Volume V, Chapter 1 Archived 30 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  4. ^ "THE NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO CHILDREN". Charity Commission. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Flegel, Monica. “Changing Faces: The NSPCC and the Use of Photography in the Construction of Cruelty to Children: 2005 Vanarsdel Prize Essay”. Victorian Periodicals Review 39.1 (2006): 1–20. Web...
  6. ^ "Home Page". ChildLine. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  7. ^ Lake, Howard. "ChildLine and NSPCC to Merge in 2006 | UK Fundraising." UK Fundraising. 2005. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.
  8. ^ "NSPCC direct services". NSPCC. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "NSPCC warns 200,000 babies at risk of abuse". BBC News. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "PRCA Awards 2012". PRCA. Archived from the original on 6 May 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Butler, Patrick (2007-08-01). "Full Stop Missing". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  12. ^ "Mailshock". The Guardian. London. 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  13. ^ House of Commons Hansard Debates for 2 Mar 2006 (pt 18). (2006-03-02). Retrieved 2011-11-21. Archived 20 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  14. ^ "Protesters enter charity offices". BBC. 2004-11-15. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  15. ^ "It Needs To Be Stopped. Full Stop". The Guardian. 2002-02-19. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  16. ^ Why this NSPCC advert is harmful to children. The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
  17. ^ A Stranger Danger. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
  18. ^ Furedi, Frank (19 January 2004). "A danger to the nation's children". Spiked. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  19. ^ a b John Carvel (2000-12-09). "NSPCC hits back over cash". The Guardian. London. 
  20. ^ Libby Jukes and Richard Duce, NSPCC says ritual child abuse is rife, The Times, 13 March 1990
  21. ^ La Fontaine, J S. (1994). The extent and nature of organised and ritual abuse: research findings. London: HMSO. ISBN 0-11-321797-8. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  22. ^ LaFontaine, J. S. (1998). Speak of the Devil: allegations of satanic abuse in Britain. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-62934-9. 
  23. ^ Tim Black (5 September 2011). "The NSPCC doesn't help kids – it harms them". Spiked. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  24. ^ Jeni Harvey (14 January 2006). "Satanic abuse: The truth at last". Middleton Guardian. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "When Satan came to town". BBC. 9 January 2006. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  26. ^ Cummings, Dolan (2006-01-12). "A full stop to the Satanic panic". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 


  • Susan J. Creighton, "Organized Abuse: The NSPCC Experience", Child Abuse Review; Volume 2, Issue 4 (1993), p. 232–242.
  • Jean La Fontaine, The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Sexual Abuse of Children, HMSO, 1994.
  • Jean La Fontaine, Speak of the Devil: Tales of Satanic Abuse in Contemporary England, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Department of Health and Social Services Inspectorate. North West Region, Inspection of child protection services in Rochdale, Greater Manchester: Social Services Inspectorate. North West Region, 1990, viii, 33pp.
  • Clyde, James J., The report of the inquiry into the removal of children from Orkney in February 1991, Edinburgh: HMSO, 1992, xiv, 363pp. ISBN 0-10-219593-5.
  • Department of Health and Social Security and Welsh Office, Working Together: a guide to arrangements for inter-agency co-operation for the protection of children from abuse, London: HMSO, 1988, 72pp. ISBN 0-11-321154-6.
  • Eleanor Stobart, Child abuse linked to accusations of "possession" and "witchcraft", Nottingham: Department for Education and Skills, 2006.

External links[edit]