Skip to main content

Safeguarding children from harm and child protection

Children’s Social Care work with families to enable children to live safe from harm within their family and the community wherever possible.

All parents experience difficulties at some time and need help from family and friends. Sometimes some parents require the support of professional and voluntary agencies to assist them with specific problems and challenges they face. 

For a small number of children and their parents additional support will be necessary to protect them from abuse and neglect and provide them with support and services so that they can have the same opportunities open to them as all children and young people.

Some abuse may happen because parents, carers or other adults act in ways which harm children. Other kinds of abuse occur when adults fail to take action to protect children or fail to meet a child’s basic needs.

There are four main types of abuse

Physical abuse

This may involve hurting or injuring a child by hitting, shaking, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.

Emotional abuse

Persistent emotional ill treatment of a child. It may involve telling children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.

Sexual abuse

Forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. It may also include non-contact activities such as involving children in inappropriate sexual activities.


Persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, which is likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development.

Witnessing domestic abuse is also harmful to children. If you are involved in domestic abuse talk to someone.

What to do if you are concerned?

Adults have a responsibility to share any concerns they have, even when they may have some doubts as to whether a child is being harmed.

If you are concerned about a child speak to someone. This might be a health visitor, nursery staff, teacher, family doctor, social worker or police officer.

Make sure you:

  • Act promptly, note your concerns and share them with a professional
  • Explain exactly what you have seen or heard
  • Give as much information as you know about the child and family
  • If a child discloses a concern offer them reassurance but do not question them at length.

If the child is at risk of abuse this information will need to be shared with other agencies.

Who to tell

If you think the child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

  • Or Bedfordshire Police: 01234 841212
  • NSPCC Child Protection Helpline: 0808 800 5000

If the child's not in immediate danger, but you're still concerned about them, please contact us online:

Report a concern about a child

If you are unable to use the online form you can also contact us at the Integrated Front Door (previously known as MASH) by phone:

  • Tel: 01234 718700 (office hours)
  • Tel: 0300 300 8123 (out of hours)

All cases are treated in confidence by highly experienced staff who work with children and young people.