Child cruelty and neglect cases have soared by 39 per cent in South Yorkshire over the last three years, new figures show.
In 2014/15 there were 89 child cruelty and neglect cases reported in the county, compared to 61 in 2013/14 and 64 in 2012/13.
Children's charity the NSPCC said in England the number of cases recorded by police forces has increased by 75 per cent in 10 years.
The charity’s annual child protection review – How Safe Are Our Children – shows parents or carers were reported in connection with 8,506 offences in 2014/15 compared to 4,855 in 2005/06.
It said the increase in cases is reflected in the number of calls made to the NSPCC helpline about children suffering neglect, with 16,000 received last year.
Adults called with fears about children who were starving and dirty, young people who lived in rat-infested homes, while others reported parents who were drunk or left their children to fend for themselves.
Peter Wanless, Chief Executive Officer of the NSPCC, said: “Neglect is the most common form of abuse in the UK and can wreak havoc on a child’s brain development, emotional well-being, ability to form relationships, and mental health.
"These children are more likely to suffer from depression and post-traumatic disorder, and even suicidal thoughts. For some, neglect can be fatal.
“These levels of neglect simply do not belong to the 21st century. Many of these lonely, frightened, children have to resort to desperate measures to survive after being left to fend for themselves and it shames our nation that these numbers are so high.
"It’s an unacceptable situation which must be remedied. And we can only do that by looking out for vulnerable children and making sure that they are given the right support to prevent longer term damage to the lives of those who have survived the horror of such neglect and cruelty.’
It is thought that greater public awareness and improvements in how police record offences could be factors in the increase in cases.