How safe are our children? 2018

Last updated: 20 Jul 2018 Topics: Online safety Inappropriate or concerning behaviour Research Duty of care

This annual report from the NSPCC compiles and analyses the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists across the 4 nations in the UK.

The report sets out different indicators. Each indicator looks at the question of 'how safe are our children?' from a different perspective. They also include historic data, to help track progress over time.

This year’s report sets out what the available data tells us about the current child protection landscape, and takes a closer look at how safe children are online.

Authors: Holly Bentley, Andy Burrows, Laura Clarke, Abbie Gillgan, Jazmin Glen, Maria Hafizi, Fiona Letendrie, Pam Miller, Orla O’Hagan, Priya Patel, Jessica Peppiate, Kate Stanley, Emily Starr, Nikki Vasco and Janaya Walker
Published: 2018

Key findings

      • There have been increases in police-recorded child sexual offences across the UK and increases in child cruelty and neglect offences in all UK nations except Scotland.
      • The last decade has also seen increased numbers of children on child protection plans and registers.
      • Almost a quarter of young people were contacted online by an adult they did not know.
      • Since the offence of communicating indecently with a child was introduced in England and Wales in April 2017, over 3,000 crimes have been recorded by the police.
      • Following the Government’s commitment to bring in laws to protect children online in 2018, the NSPCC is calling for the legislation to:
        • commit social media firms to follow a consistent set of minimum safeguarding standards
        • make platforms report on how they keep children safe
        • carry consequences for platforms that don’t follow safeguarding rules
        • make platforms take proactive steps to prevent exposure to illegal content and behaviour


To download the 2018 report, and to access previous editions, see the NSPCC website's How safe are our children? 2018 page.

Further information

Discover more research articles in our resource library.

Take a look at our online safety topic pages for information and advice.