A brief history of the NSPCC | The Momma Diaries

Friday, July 10, 2015

A brief history of the NSPCC

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, known as the NSPCC, is the UK’s leading children’s charity.

The NSPCC was founded in 1884 to protect children from abuse and neglect and to support vulnerable families. At the time, the organisation was called the London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It wasn’t long before it expanded across the country.

In Victorian Britain, life was extremely harsh for many children, with social deprivation and cruelty to children widespread throughout society. Children were forced to work long hours, beg in the streets, and often starved and suffered from treatable illnesses. Outside intervention in private life, even in cases where children were being abused or neglected by their parents, was frowned upon.

Credited as the founder, one of the most significant figures in the development of the charity is Reverend Benjamin Waugh, who later became the NSPCC’s first Director. Reverend Waugh was deeply moved by the deprivation and mistreatment of children that he witnessed in the slums of East London and felt compelled to act.

Almost immediately, the NSPCC was able to change this public perception, and lobbied Parliament to pass the first legislation that protected children from abusive situations in the home. This was the 1889 Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act and surprisingly came more than 50 years after laws that protected animals from cruelty.

In the following century, the organisation continued to lead the development of child protection practice and policy in the UK. Further laws followed, allowing children to give evidence in court, and emotional cruelty was recognised as well. At the same time, the NSPCC also pioneered voluntary action and fundraising to support the work it carried out, allowing it to remain independently funded and impartial.

In 1904, NSPCC inspectors were granted special authority from Parliament to remove children from abusive or neglectful homes. In the 1960s social work became increasingly professional and the NSPCC introduced a training course and qualification that led to many more social work jobs. This led to a full network of child protection teams by the 1990s and the NSPCC Helpline which was set up in 1991.

ChildLine joined the Society in 2006, which also means that the NSPCC now works in Scotland.

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 the general public think and behave in regard to child cruelty.

Since its formation in 1884, over 10 million children have been reached and helped through the services offered by NSPCC staff and volunteers.

Disclosure: The Momma Diaries sometimes features guest posts when relative to the site.

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