What signs should make me concerned that a child might be being abused?
Children who are being abused rarely tell anyone about it, but there are signs you might notice which may be an indication of a child being abused or neglected.
The child may:
- have unexplained bruising or bruising in an unusual place
- seem afraid, quiet or withdrawn
- be afraid to go home
- seem tired, hungry or unkempt
- be left unattended or unsupervised
- have too much responsibility for their age
- be acting in a sexually inappropriate way
- be misusing drugs or alcohol
You may also see an adult behaving in a way which makes you worry about any children they care for. They may, for example, be acting violently or sexually towards a child or someone else, misusing drugs or alcohol while caring for a child or be verbally abusive towards a child.
Who should I speak to if I have a concern?
If you have concerns about a child or young person, please contact the Council's Social Work Service on 01563 554200 (Kilmarnock) or 01290 427720 (Cumnock). Out of hours you can call 0800 328 7758.
Alternatively you could speak to a health visitor, teacher, nursery worker, family doctor, social worker, police officer or the Children's Reporter.
You should act promptly and give as much information as you can about the child and family.
If the child is at immediate risk, phone the police. Dial 999.
What will happen next if I report my concerns?
We treat all information seriously and will act on what you tell us.
For example we will:
- check agency records and gather new information
- speak to the child and family to assess the situation
- ensure the child is safe
The first priority for everyone is making sure that the child is safe. If extra help is needed to support a family in looking after their child safely, staff from agencies like health, education and social work services will all work together to plan how best to provide this.
We will make sure that the child is safe, and we will get back in touch to let you know that we have taken the appropriate action.
Will I have to give my name?
No. However, remaining anonymous may cause difficulties in establishing whether or not a child is at risk. All information received will be treated with discretion. Any details received, including your name, will not be revealed unless the child's safety requires this.
What will happen to the child and family if I share my concerns?
Once we have finished our enquiries, a number of things might happen:
- no further action
- support or advice offered to the family
- referral to another agency for a service
- referral to the appropriate legal system