All children have a right to feel safe and be protected. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect children.
Most children grow up in families where they are properly taken care of and kept safe. Children and young people are vulnerable and they depend on adults to support and care for them. When this is not happening, the child or young person depends on someone noticing this and doing something about it.
All adults, including parents and carers, family members, neighbours, members of the public and professionals have a responsibility to protect children.
When should you be concerned about a child’s safety and protection?
Children and young people rarely tell if they are being abused, however, there may be signs that indicate a child isn’t safe.
The child may:
- have unexplained bruising or bruising in an unusual place
- appear afraid, quiet or withdrawn
- be afraid to go home
- appear hungry, tired or unkempt
- act out in a sexually inappropriate way including sexual swearing
- place themselves in danger (for example, misusing drugs or alcohol or running away)
- be exploited by adults or others
- be left alone
- not receive medical treatment when they need it
- be hit physically
- be constantly criticised or humiliated
- be sexually assaulted
Some children and young people live in stressful situations, such as where:
- the adults are violent
- there may be domestic abuse
- the adults misuse alcohol and/or drugs
- the child is given too much responsibility for their age
Any or all of these factors may be present and could be indicators that the child isn’t safe.
Children in these situations are the ones who need your help.
What should I do if I am concerned?
Sometimes it is hard to get involved in these situations. People worry about interfering or making a mistake and they worry about what will happen to a family if they report a concern. What is important to remember though is that children can’t always get help for themselves - they may need you to get it for them.
Talk to us
If you are concerned or unsure about a child’s safety and protection, please speak to someone. This might be a health visitor, nursery staff, teacher, GP, social worker, police officer or children’s reporter.
If the child is in immediate danger, you should always contact the police.
Make sure you:
- act promptly
- raise your concerns
- give as much information as you know about the child and family
Will you need to give your 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 next?
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 and plan out how best to provide this.
What will you be told?
If you contact social work services you will receive information about how the matter has been dealt with.
Remember – there is nothing more important than keeping our children safe and protected from harm so make sure you talk to us.
If you are worried or know of a child who might be at risk, you can talk to staff at one of the numbers below. You can also speak to your health visitor, who can be found through your GP surgery or health centre.