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Are you worried about a child?

If you suspect that a child or young person is at risk:

  • Never assume that somebody else will report when children are at risk.
  • Never delay passing your concerns to someone in a position to ensure that a proper investigation takes place.
  • Do not worry that you may be wrong - it is better to discuss your concerns with someone who has the experience to make an assessment.

If you are worried about your child or someone else’s treatment of a child, seek advice about what practical and emotional support is available. Expressions of concern about children are welcomed both from family members, members of the public and professionals alike. You will always be taken seriously and can expect your concerns to be fully investigated.

If you are unsure you may first like to discuss your concerns with someone who works with children and families, e.g. health visitor, social worker, school nurse or teacher (all schools have a teacher responsible for child protection).

If a child tells you that they or another child or young person is being abused: 

  • Show that you accept what they say and are taking their allegations seriously
  • Encourage the child to talk, but do not ask leading questions or prompt them
  • Explain what action you will take (i.e. following the advice in this section)
  • Do not give an undertaking of absolute confidentiality as you will have to disclose information to those who need to know
  • Write down what they have told you, using exact words if possible
  • Do not confront the alleged abuser

The persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects of the child's emotional and behavioural development.

The persistent or severe neglect of a child or the failure to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger or extreme failure to carry out important aspects of care, resulting in significant impairment of the child's health or development.

The hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.

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, including:

  • Physical contact, including penetrative or non penetrative acts
  • Non contact activities involving children in looking at, or in the production of pornographic material or watching sexual activities or
  • Encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.


Page updated on: 16/08/2016

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