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What to do of you are worried a child is being abused

Advice for practitioners

Government advice to help practitioners identify the signs of child abuse and neglect and understand what action to take.

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Worried about a child?

You may be worried or concerned about a child or young person. This might be a baby, toddler, school age child or teenager. You may know them or not, even their name but protecting children from harm is everyone's responsibility. Abuse can take many different forms, such as neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse.

Don't assume that someone else will take responsibility and make that phone call. You could help to protect a child or even save a child's life. If you are worried, report it

If you think that a child has been harmed or is being neglected, contact MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) or the Police on the contact numbers listed below:

Call the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01709 336080

Contacting the Police when you think a child is in immediate danger:

Call the Police on 999 in an emergency

Contacting the police to discuss a child protection or safeguarding concern when a child is not in immediate danger:

Call the Police on 101 if it is not an emergency

ChildLine:

Call ChildLine on freephone 0800 1111

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children:

Call NSPCC on freephone 0808 800 5000


Warning Signs

There are many possible signs of abuse and neglect, ranging from physical injury to changes in appearance or behaviour. Alternatively, you may witness an incident or a child may tell you that he or she is being harmed. If you are worried, report it.

Find out more about signs of abuse from NSPCC

Effects of abuse and neglect

Child abuse, especially when it continues over a long period, can have major effects on a child's health, development and well-being. Sustained abuse has a deep impact on a child's self image and self esteem lasting into their adult lives.

Evidence and the accounts of adults that have been abused as children show that it can have damaging effects on an adult's ability to make and sustain close relationships and their ability to develop the necessary skills and attitudes to be a good parent.

In extreme circumstances child abuse can result in death or serious or permanent injury.

Don't assume that someone else will take responsibility and make that phone call. You could help to save a child's life. If you are worried, report it.


Talking to Someone

You can talk to someone about a concern in confidence on the NSPCC helpline or ChildLine. You can also contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH):

Call the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01709 336080

  • What will happen if I report child abuse?

Your concerns will always be taken seriously and looked into by a Social Worker. It might be that the Social Care department are already working or in contact with the family already. If they are not then it will depend on the particular situation but they will respond as quickly as they can. Their main aim will be to ensure the child's safety. 

All childcare agencies believe that children are best cared for by their parents. Children are rarely removed from their parents and most families are given help and support. Social workers can only remove children from home with a court order and only after they have demonstrated that the child is at serious risk.

  • Can I remain anonymous?

Yes you can - especially if it means you wouldn't report it otherwise. Bear in mind though that it will help the Social Care department and /or the police if they can follow up your concerns with you.