Published: 00:01, 23 August 2017
Cases of child neglect in Kent have increased by 70%, according to figures released today.
The NSPCC referred 410 youngsters in the county to police and children's services between April 2016-2017 amid concerns for their safety.
This compares to 241 referrals during April 2011-2012.
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The children's charity also received 68 calls and emails from people in Kent seeking advice about children being neglected.
A similar pattern was also recorded in Medway, where the number of NSPCC referrals reached 85 between April 2016-2017, compared to 66 in April 2011-12.
The NSPCC says the victims can range from babies up to the age of 13.
Common signs and symptoms of neglect include:
The NSPCC says child neglect was mentioned in more than a quarter of all calls to its helpline in the last year.
A growing number of people contacting its helpline described parents as having a problem with alcohol and drugs, with some of them regularly leaving their children unsupervised so they could go drinking with friends.
It says neglect can have serious and long-lasting effects on children and in the worst cases can lead to the victim suffering permanent disabilities or even dying of malnutrition.
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, called for a government-commissioned, nationwide study on child abuse and neglect to gauge the scale of the problem.
He said: "Neglect can have severe and long-lasting consequences for children, and can also be an indicator of other forms of abuse.
"This is why it is so important for anyone suspecting a child of being neglected to contact the NSPCC helpline, so we can alert the authorities to quickly step in and help those in need."
The NSPCC figures were published in its state of the nation report, entitled How Safe are our children?
It says neglect can happen for a range of reasons, including parents not having the skills, support or funds, to having mental health issues.
However, help is out there for parents struggling to cope.
The NSPCC supports parents who are on drug or alcohol treatment programmes through its Parents Under Pressure service, providing them with help to develop secure and healthy relationships with their children.
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