A pocket history of the NSPCC

A pocket history of
NSPCC, Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3NH
Telephone: 020 7825 2500 email: [email protected]
Images from NSPCC archive. Child photography on pages 30, 34-38 by Jon Challicom, posed by models.
Registered charity number 216401 and SC037717. NS/0039
A pocket history of
The National Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Children
(NSPCC) was founded in 1884.
Its aim then was to protect children
from cruelty and to support
vulnerable families. The Society
today may look very different, but
its purpose remains the same: to
end cruelty to children.
Since the Society formed, it has been integral to the
development of child protection policy and practice in this
country, and has helped more than 10 million children.
We now have 180 teams and services helping to protect
children across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the
Channel Islands. Scotland and the Republic of Ireland now
have their own independent societies for the prevention of
cruelty to children, established in 1909 and 1956 respectively.
What follows is a brief history of the NSPCC, explaining the
Society’s key achievements so far and looking to the future
for the challenges the NSPCC will face in the 21st century.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
Life in Victorian Britain
The late 19th century was a time of social deprivation and
great hardship for many children. The Reverend George
Staite summed up the inhumanity of the era in a letter to
the Liverpool Mercury in 1881: “…whilst we have a
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, can we
not do something to prevent cruelty to children?”
However, social attitudes made a very clear distinction
between the public and private lives of Victorians. Even
the famous reformer Lord Shaftesbury said to Staite: “The
evils you state are enormous and indisputable, but they
are of so private, internal and domestic a nature as to be
beyond the reach of legislation.”
Liverpool banker, Thomas Agnew, on a trip to New York in
1881, visited the New York Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children. He was so impressed by the charity,
that on his return he set up a similar venture in Liverpool
in 1883, the Liverpool Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children.
Children suffered greatly in the 19th century as the Government resisted
passing legislation that would interfere in the private lives of Victorians.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
1884-1914 Early days
of child protection
The London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children was established on 8 July 1884, following
guidance from Thomas Agnew. Lord Shaftesbury was
appointed as president and the Reverend Benjamin Waugh
and Reverend Edward Rudolf as joint honorary secretaries.
Waugh was to be significant in shaping the Society’s
future. After witnessing the levels of deprivation and child
cruelty in Greenwich, London where he lived, Waugh’s
urgent priority was to draw public and government
attention to the plight of children.
By 1889 the London Society had 32 branches, known as
aid committees, throughout England, Wales and Scotland.
Each branch raised funds from donations, subscriptions
and legacies to support an inspector, who investigated
reports of child abuse and neglect.
At the 1889 annual general meeting the Society changed
its name to the National Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children. Queen Victoria became Patron and
Waugh was appointed as Director.
The Reverend Benjamin Waugh, founder of the NSPCC.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
The Children’s Charter was also passed in 1889. This was
the first Act of Parliament aimed at protecting children from
cruelty and for the first time ever, British law could
intervene in relations between parents and children. The
police could now arrest anyone found ill-treating a child
and could obtain a warrant to enter the home of any child
thought to be in danger.
The Act proved a crucial landmark for the Society, which
had spent five years lobbying Parliament for the need to
govern the treatment of children.
Princess Mary, who later became Queen Mary,
subscribed to the Society in 1891. She inspired the
formation of the Children’s League of Pity, a forerunner
of today’s NSPCC Schools Fundraising.
By the start of the 20th century the NSPCC had been
granted a Royal Charter and had 163 inspectors, a six-fold
increase on ten years earlier. The 1904 Prevention of
Cruelty Act granted the NSPCC its unique authorised
person status, enabling inspectors to remove children from
abusive or neglectful homes with the consent of a Justice
of the Peace. By 1905 the NSPCC had helped more than
one million children.
An early NSPCC inspector.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
1914-1944 The war years
The onset of the First World War meant many of the male
NSPCC inspectors were called up for military service, and
for the first time women took on this role.
Following the 1916 War Charities Act, the NSPCC began
using street collectors to raise money. Branches held
annual NSPCC Flag Days, which quickly became highly
effective means of raising revenue.
In 1920, the NSPCC started providing specialist services to
meet specific social needs. Four female inspectors in
London set up a medical branch to deal with problems
relating to poor nutrition and living conditions. An NSPCC
inspector was also established to help canal boat children,
who were living in appalling conditions and received no
The era’s emerging media also had a major impact on the
Society: the future King Edward VIII spoke on behalf of the
NSPCC in a 1926 radio broadcast and by the early 1930s
the NSPCC was one of the first charities to screen
fundraising films in cinemas and later on television.
Women inspectors were first employed during the First World War
when many of their male counterparts were called up for military service.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
The 1932 Children and Young Person’s Act, and the
further Act of 1933, served to improve child protection in
Britain, bringing together all existing child protection
legislation into one Act.
By the outbreak of war in 1939, five million children had
been helped by the NSPCC. The public now widely
accepted the work of the charity and parents and relatives
of children came to the charity directly for help.
During the Second World War the NSPCC continued to
operate and it advised the Government on child protection
issues raised by the war, for example the treatment of
evacuees. In 1944, Her Royal Highness The Princess
Elizabeth became President of the NSPCC and at the
NSPCC’s 1944 Diamond Jubilee meeting said: “I do not
think there is any organisation which performs a more vital
service to our country’s welfare.”
HRH The Princess Elizabeth, President of the NSPCC 1944-1952.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
1945-1974 The state
of British welfare
The experience of war taught Britain the vital necessity of
protecting its most important asset – the future generation.
Immediately after the war, rates of divorce, separation and
child neglect increased and by 1947 a national committee
had been set up to look into the problems affecting British
family life.
The 1948 Children Act saw the establishment of local
authority children’s committees and children’s officers,
following the recommendations of the Curtis Report. The
NSPCC was involved in the Curtis Committee, which
looked at protecting children in foster homes, following the
death of Dennis O’Neill at the hands of his foster carers. At
this time the NSPCC was also calling for preparation for
parenthood lessons at school.
In the post-war period the NSPCC experienced an
increased number of calls for advice directly from parents
and carers. The increasingly demanding workloads on
inspectors prevented them from providing the follow up
support required by such families, so the NSPCC
established a Women Visitors’ Scheme in 1948, where
female staff would visit families, offering advice and help.
An NSPCC inspector in the post-war period.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
As the Welfare State became fundamental to British life,
state-run child protection services began to overlap with
those provided by the NSPCC.
The 1960 Ingleby Report drew up a list of
recommendations of how to forge a better relationship. As
a result, the NSPCC agreed to co-ordinate cases with
governmental bodies, but its status as an authorised
person and its power to intervene were called into
question. This prompted the charity’s director, the
Reverend Arthur Morton, to launch a major campaign and
the Society successfully maintained this legal power.
By 1963 the NSPCC had a child protection staff of 325,
who helped 121,565 children in that year alone.
In the same year, the Children and Young Persons Act
gave many local authorities responsibility for providing
support to families at home, in order to reduce the
number of children being taken into care. This radically
changed the number of vulnerable families being dealt
with by the NSPCC, and meant that the charity could
start developing other, more specialised services, such
as child and family therapies.
NSPCC President (1953-2002), HRH The Princess Margaret,
meeting some of the last uniformed inspectors.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
The 1960s was a decade of change for the charity. The
NSPCC developed its child protection research and
consultation service, which later became a leading
authority on child protection. A network of playgroups for
children between the ages of two-and-a-half and five
thought to be at risk, or from deprived communities, were
set up and it further modernised its structure.
By the start of the 1970s the NSPCC had introduced a
training course for fundraisers, a social work training
course, abolished its uniforms and all female child
protection staff enjoyed the same status as their male
counterparts. It also set up its first Special Unit in
Manchester in 1973, which was on call 24 hours a day for
child counselling, professional consultation and a central
register of children at risk.
Pop singer Lulu and champion boxer Henry Cooper take to the
streets as part of the NSPCC Support the Stars Appeal, 1972.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
1974-1999 100 years
of the NSPCC
The 1970s saw an increase in public and media scrutiny of
social work following several high profile child deaths. In
1974, the NSPCC set up a Battered Child Advisory Centre
with a full range of specialist services for children in need
of protection and their families.
The Special Unit in Manchester opened a Family Day
Centre at the unit in 1976; this proved to be such a
success, 13 more units were developed together with local
authorities and the Department of Health.
The Special Units produced a series of groundbreaking
reports at the end of the 1970s covering 10 per cent of the
population. The findings showed that each year at least
7,700 children suffered physical abuse, which included
110 deaths.
Annual Council Meeting address on the battered baby syndrome.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
In 1983, despite feeling the effects of the worldwide
recession, the NSPCC drew up a Centenary Charter with
the Society’s priorities for the future to coincide with the
NSPCC’s centenary. The Centenary Charter’s first aim
was to set up 60 child protection teams across the
country to replace inspectors. In order to raise funds to
achieve this, the Society launched a Centenary Appeal. A
series of fundraising events followed and donations
totalled more than £14 million, most of which came
through 30,000 volunteers.
The Children Act of 1989 brought about a review of the
services provided by the NSPCC. The subsequent Strategy
for the Nineties outlined how the Society could best use its
resources to protect children. Services were developed on
the basis of local need from eight regions throughout
England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In May 1989 the NSPCC also opened its purpose-built
National Child Protection Training Centre in Leicester. The
centre is now widely recognised as a national centre of
excellence for child protection training and consultancy.
The NSPCC marked its 100th birthday in 1984
with the launch of the Centenary Appeal.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
The 1980s also saw the opening of the NSPCC’s first
public affairs department and the Society’s first major
public awareness campaign using a multimedia approach.
The NSPCC’s Public Policy department contributed to and
influenced both the Children Act in 1989, and the 1996
Family Law Act. It also campaigned hard for legal reform,
and in 1996 children were awarded the right to give
evidence by video, including during cross-examination.
During the 1990s, campaigning and parliamentary work
continued to play a major role in the NSPCC’s mission to
end cruelty to children as they had done since its earliest
days. The Society felt that far greater resources were used
to deal with the aftermath of abuse, than were used to
prevent abuse happening in the first place.
As such, the NSPCC set up its Child Protection Helpline in
1991. This free, 24-hour, nationwide service was the first of
its kind in Europe. Anyone worried about the safety of a
child could obtain advice quickly and easily from an
experienced telephone counsellor at any time of the day or
night. The NSPCC also funded the National Commission of
Inquiry into the Prevention of Child Abuse in 1994.
Promotional material from the NSPCC's first
multi-media campagin, The Forgotten Children, in 1986.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
1999-2007 The FULL STOP
Campaign and Appeal
The National Commission of Inquiry into the Prevention of
Child Abuse produced a report in 1996 stating “child abuse
can almost always be prevented, provided the will to do so
is there.” Following this report, the NSPCC drew up its
most ambitious campaign ever in March 1999, the FULL
STOP Campaign and the associated FULL STOP Appeal.
FULL STOP has one single aim – to end cruelty to
children. This means creating and sustaining a society
where all children are loved, valued and able to fulfil their
potential, free from the fear of physical, emotional, sexual
abuse and neglect.
The NSPCC hopes to bring about fundamental changes in
attitudes and behaviour towards children, and involve
individuals, communities and organisations from every part
of society in the Campaign.
The FULL STOP Campaign launched with a series of hard-hitting
adverts showing famous faces covering their eyes.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
The FULL STOP Campaign required the NSPCC to work at
a level that it never had before. In order to support this, the
FULL STOP Appeal was created to raise £250 million on
top of the NSPCC’s usual fundraising income.
The Appeal, which lasted until April 2007, exceeded its
targets and, with the support of NSPCC supporters and
partners, helped to create a period of unprecedented
change. Just a few of the achievements made possible by
the Appeal include:
Expansion of the NSPCC’s services for children. In 1999,
there was just one Specialist Investigation Service team,
based in London. Now called the Independent Enquiry
and Assessment Service, it exists as a national network
across the UK and Channel Islands.
Support for the Appeal also enabled the NSPCC to
continue providing all of its existing services whilst
ChildLine joined the Society.
The NSPCC’s other activities to end cruelty to children –
including lobbying, training and consultancy services and
public education campaigns – have also increased, and
are helping to change the way society thinks and behaves.
The Appeal has created an amazing platform for the
continued success of the FULL STOP Campaign.
The so-called "cartoon boy" advert used animation to depict abuse and
encouraged people to take action if they thought a child was being abused.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
Being someone to turn to
In 2006 ChildLine formally became part of the NSPCC,
meaning the Society was able to help, support and protect
even more children and young people.
ChildLine’s memorable number, 0800 1111, remains
the same, and it continues to provide a 24-hour free,
confidential helpline service for thousands of callers each
day. They call to talk about many different things, but some
of the more common subjects include bullying, family
tensions and abuse.
The ChildLine in Partnerships (CHIPS) outreach service
also continues to work in schools and other youth settings,
helping to equip children and young people with the skills
to support each other.
Whilst joining the NSPCC, ChildLine also celebrated a
milestone of its own: its 20th birthday. Since 1986 it had
helped more than a million children.
CHILDREN 1ST provides the ChildLine service
in Scotland on behalf of the NSPCC.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
The NSPCC is committed to ensuring that ChildLine can
provide help, support and advice for all children and young
people who need it.
In 2007, the UK Government gave the NSPCC a grant of
£30 million over four years to help develop its helpline
services and ensure that more children and young people
are protected, and receive the support they need.
The funding will help to strengthen ChildLine’s existing
telephone helpline service, as well as enabling it to provide
support and advice online or by SMS text. It will also boost
the NSPCC’s adult-facing Child Protection Helpline service.
However, much more is needed if the Society is to be able
to answer all calls, both from children and adults. For this
reason, the helpline services are the focus of the NSPCC’s
fundraising for the immediate future.
ChildLine wants to be there for all
children and young, whatever their problem.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
NSPCC – the future
Today the NSPCC’s purpose remains the same – to end
cruelty to children. The objectives by which it aims to
achieve its mission are:
To mobilise everyone to take action to end cruelty
to children.
To give children the help, support and environment they
need to stay safe from cruelty.
To find new ways of working with communities to keep
children safe from cruelty.
To be, and be seen as, someone to turn to for children
and young people.
Children and young people are now more involved than ever
in all aspects of the Society’s work, as the NSPCC aims to
both speak on their behalf and make sure they have someone
to turn to for help. Children’s views are especially important
as the charity increases ChildLine’s ability to offer support.
Meanwhile, increased support for the Child Protection
Helpline will enable any adult who is concerned about a
child’s wellbeing to receive the support and advice they need.
Our vision is of a society where all children are loved, valued and
able to fulfil their potential.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
Rather than simply continuing to expand in all areas, the
NSPCC’s strategy for the future focuses on enabling others
across society to do everything they can to end child cruelty.
This means spreading good practice by ensuring the Society’s
services work with local authorities and others with an interest
in protecting children and young people. It also means more
working in partnership with other organisations of all shapes
and sizes to put essential safeguarding measures in place.
New projects such as the Safe Place and Fresh Start centres,
in Merseyside and London respectively, will act as centres of
excellence, providing services for children, conducting
research and offering training for other professionals.
Local campaigns will help to address the differing issues
faced by children and young people in individual communities.
Meanwhile, on a more personal level, the annual Be the FULL
STOP campaign gives you a range of good deeds by which
you can play your part throughout the year.
Protecting childen remains the sole focus of all our activities.
A pocket history of the NSPCC
A pocket history of the NSPCC
The NSPCC believes there can be
no more important achievement in
the UK and Channel Islands than
to end cruelty to children.
As the Reverend Benjamin Waugh
observed, “The NSPCC is not just
another children’s charity. It is an
organisation which will fight to
obtain the citizenship of every
child and justice for all children.”
Play your part at: www.nspcc.org.uk
A pocket history of the NSPCC