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.
What is child abuse and neglect?
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
This may involve hurting or injuring a child by hitting, shaking, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.
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.
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 might make you concerned?
There are many possible signs of abuse ranging from physical injury to changes in behaviour. In some cases a child may tell you that they are being harmed.
Alternatively you may witness an incident either between a parent and a child or a professional or volunteer working with children, which causes you to be concerned.
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.
Contacting the Police or Children's Social Care
You can contact a duty social worker at Children’s Social Care or speak to the Police. They will ask you to explain your concerns about the child.
What you say will be treated seriously and confidentially. Your identity will be protected unless you give permission for it to be disclosed.
You will be told what action will be taken about the concerns you have but you may not be told about what is being done as this may be confidential to the child.
In the majority of cases families may only need extra support to help them keep their children safe. Only in rare circumstances do reported concerns result in children having to live apart from their families.
Who to contact
If you think a child or young person is being abused or mistreated or you have concerns about the safety or welfare of a child, you must speak to someone immediately.
You can ring the Multi Agency Support Hub (MASH) on 01234 718700 (office hours)or ring 0300 300 8123 (out of hours).
If it is an emergency please ring 999.