CALLS to a child protection charity helpline for adults concerned about a child rose 30% last year.

NSPCC Scotland said there was a 44.5% increase in referrals made to social work services or police in Scotland.

Of 1920 calls to the helpline last year, about 60% were sufficiently serious to merit a referral to police or social services. The charity said 1166 referrals were made in 2012/13, involving 1807 children in Scotland.

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Half of Scottish callers in 2012/13 had waited more than a month to report their concerns and a further quarter had delayed speaking out for more than six months.

Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland, said: "These figures demonstrate very clearly the important role of the NSPCC helpline in identifying families and children in need of support in Scotland.

"Without the willingness of friends, families and communities to take action, children affected by abuse and neglect might never enjoy the childhood they deserve."

The leading cause for referrals was neglect (46%), with physical abuse and sexual abuse also reported as significant concerns.

One person who called last year described concerns about a child, saying: "The woman yanked the young girl by her hair and punched her in the head twice. The girl was crying and screaming and the woman just pushed her away."

Another, a neighbour of a teenage boy, expressed fears for his wellbeing: "He's terrified of his mother. She punches him and kicks him."

Mr Forde said: "It's vital we move away from the sense that picking up the phone or reporting concerns online is 'telling tales', when, in fact, it is potentially saving a child from abuse."

Anyone worried about a child, or in need of support, can call the NSPCC on 0808 8005000, text 88858 or email Calls can be anonymous.