|National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children|
|Purpose/focus||Campaigning and working in child protection|
|Region served||England, Wales, Northern Ireland, 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 the UK 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) 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, because by then it had branches across Great Britain and Ireland. The first child cruelty case in Britain was brought by the RSPCA; the court charge list described the affected child as "a small animal", because at the time there were no laws in Britain to protect children from mistreatment. This case was successful.
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, and the Channel Islands. Children 1st - formerly the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children - is the NSPCC's equivalent in Scotland. 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.
In February 2006, the charity ChildLine joined together with the NSPCC. Since 2002, the Chairman of the NSPCC has been Sir Christopher Kelly KCB, formerly a senior Civil Servant. The Chief Executive was Dame Mary Marsh DBE until Andrew Flanagan was appointed in October 2008.
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 the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline, offering support to anyone concerned about a child, and Childline offering support to children themselves. The NSPCC merged with Childline in 2006. In addition to the telephone helplines, NSPCC runs a similar online service called there4me.com.
The charity also runs 177 local services. These offer general family support, as well as more specific services such as working with families with alcohol problems.
As well as its main web site, the NSPCC provides a specialist web site for professionals called NSPCC inform.
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 . 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.
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  and by the fathers' rights group Fathers4Justice. In fact, 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."
The organisation has also faced criticism for its allegedly increasing obsession with publicity and advertising, for fear mongering 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."
The NSPCC responded to criticism about its spending, suggesting that raising awareness of child cruelty was essential and that lobbying was more effective than direct projects. David Hinchliffe, Labour MP, supported expenditure on campaigning, stating that the NSPCC's role should be about raising awareness., 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.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, a moral panic emerged over alleged ritual satanic abuse. The NSPCC 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. The most prominent of these cases was in Rochdale in 1990 when up to 20 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 out 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.