Children rarely tell if they are being abused, however, there may be signs which make you concerned and may be an indication of a child being abused.
There are different types of abuse, these include:
- physical injury (being hit, kicked, punched)
- physical neglect (not being properly fed or clothed, poor hygiene)
- sexual abuse (inappropriate sexual behaviour, language or assault)
- emotional abuse (constantly criticised, ignored, humiliated)
The child may:
- have unexplained bruising or bruising in an unusual place
- appear afraid, quiet or withdrawn
- appear afraid to go home
- appear hungry, tired or unkempt
- be left unattended or unsupervised
- have too much responsibility for their age
- be acting out in a sexually inappropriate way
- be misusing drugs or alcohol
The adult (parent or carer) may:
- be acting in a violent or sexual manner towards a child
- be misusing drink or drugs while caring for a child
On their own, they do not necessarily mean a child is being abused. You may know of other concerns. If in doubt, you should check it out to ensure the child is safe.
If you feel very strongly that you cannot give your name, you need not do so - your concerns for a child will still be examined. We will make every effort to keep your name and address confidential, however, sometimes we are unable to do this. Due to the highly confidential nature of this work, you may not hear of the outcome of the enquiry, but Children's Services will re-contact you if this is appropriate.
If you are concerned about a child speak to someone. This might be a health visitor, nursery staff, teacher, GP, social worker or police officer.
You can contact:
Department of Health and Social Care
2nd Floor Murray House
The person you speak to will take your concerns very seriously and refer the matter to a Social Worker, specially trained in child protection who will contact you. The Social Worker will first check their records to see whether the person is already known to Children's Social Care and will then discuss the case with a senior officer in the department. Enquiries often start with asking a teacher, a health visitor or a doctor who knows the child. In most cases there will be a discussion with the parents and the child. Sometimes it becomes clear at a very early stage that concerns are not founded.
If initial enquiries do reveal significant concerns about the child's welfare, then the formal child protection enquiry procedures will begin immediately.
As a child
If you are a child or young person who is being hurt it is important that you talk to someone you trust and get support and help for what is happening. You may feel frightened, confused, angry and may feel you are to blame in some way for what is happening.
You may feel that nobody will believe you but you will find that there are people who are willing to listen, to give you support and help and who will believe you.
Talk to your parents - if for any reason you feel you cannot do this then think about who you could talk to - perhaps a teacher at school, a youth worker, a family member, a friend, a helpline.
You can talk to someone at Childline or visit their website:
0800 11 11
You can contact a Social Worker:
If telephoning, you will hear a recorded message and then press button 2.
Emails are only looked at during office hours so if you need more urgent support you should contact an adult you trust and ask them to help you.
Alternatively, send a text message to +44 7624 365298. Please give your name and the way you would like us to contact you. This text message will only be looked at during office hours so if it is outside office hours, including at the weekend then it would be best if you contacted another person who will be able to find a way of helping you if you need some urgent help.