IF YOU SUSPECT A CHILD IS BEING ABUSED, YOU MUST (BY LAW IN MOST PLACES) REPORT THE ABUSE IMMEDIATELY TO THE POLICE (999/9111) AND/OR YOUR LOCAL PROTECTION AUTHORITY (SOCIAL SERVICES/CPS).
IF YOU WERE ABUSED AS A CHILD, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO REPORT IT AND GET THE JUSTICE, HELP AND PEACE THAT SHOULD BE YOURS, WHILST QUITE PROBABLY PROTECTING OTHER CHILDREN.
IF YOU ARE A CHILD AND YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT ANYTHING AT ALL, YOU CAN CALL CHILDLINE (08001111) AND THE PEOPLE THERE WILL HELP YOU. ITS FREE AND IT WON’T SHOW UP ON YOUR PHONE BILL. IF THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE, IS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER ADULT YOU TRUST WHO YOU CAN TELL? No one ever has the right to hurt you, it is not your fault and noone should blame you. The adults around you should only ever love and protect you, if they have not, it is because they have a problem, not because of you or anything you have or haven’t done. There are people who want to help you and your family, but they can’t unless they know what is happening. there is never any shame in being a survivor. Speak up, get help.
UK – National Association For People Abused In Childhood: 0800 085 3330
UK NSPCC Helpline – 0808 800 5000 Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
UK- ChildLine: 0800 1111
USA – National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
GERMANY – GESPCAN – 0211 – 4976 80 0
FRANCE – CNAPE: 01 45 83 50 60
INDIA – Childline India – 1098
CHINA – Against Chils Abuse Ltd: 2755 1122
CANADA – Boost, Child Abuse Prevention/Intervention: 1-855-424-1100 or (416) 515-1100
AUSTRALIA – Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
The NSPCC say that the average person reporting suspected child abuse, has normally had concerns for over a month before they decide to report it. Often this is because they are unsure, or unwilling to ‘interfere’, or are afraid of comebacks.
A month is a very, very long time for a child in danger. There is no reason tot to speak up if you have genuine concerns for a child; if you are mistaken and your concerns are invalid, then any investigation will conclude that there is no need for protection. If you are right…you may just save a life. You can report anonymously with no need to worry about comebacks.
An abused child is totally at the mercy of their abuser. They are unable to defend themselves, or seek help for themselves. The NEED you to help them.
If you are worried about a child, please do not wait to raise those concerns. A frightened and confused child may be depending on you.
What To Do If You Are Concerned For A Child
If you suspect a child is being abused then PLEASE TAKE ACTION, don’t hope someone else will do it or assume it was nothing. If there is nothing to worry about, involving professionals will serve to put your mind at rest, if there is a problem that needs addressing, then you will really make the difference to a lonely child facing things no child should ever face. Contacting a professional body about your concerns can be very trying and sometimes scary, but no where near as frighting as child abuse is for victims. You will need to be brave, but if your concerns are genuine, you are absolutely doing the right thing.
If a Child Confides in You That They are Being Abused
· Stay calm and be reassuring
· Find a quiet place to talk
· Believe what you are being told
· Listen but do not press for more information
· Say you are glad the child told you
· Say you will do your best to help and support the child
· Tell the child it is not their fault – it is the abuser who has a problem. It is important to stress that the child has done nothing wrong; they may have been conditioned to think otherwise, and have been very brave in telling you.
· Acknowledge the childs feelings which may include anger, sadness or guilt or even concern for the abuser, especially if they have been groomed.
· REPORT THE ABUSE, either by calling you local child protection authority, the police or the NSPCC/Childhelp. Seek medical attention.
· Reassure the child as much as possible, stay with them if you can, be as gentle and supportive as possible.
Social Services and the police are the only organizations with the authority to act as investigators into child abuse so are excellent groups to contact. You can remain anonymous if you wish, but it may help the investigation if you identify yourself. Give as many details of your concerns as possible. The important thing is to make sure a child gets the protection it needs, and a family gets support if they require it.
The NSPCC is also a very useful contact. They will listen to your concerns and offer advice on what action to take. They are also a good starting point if you have suspicions but believe there may be an alternative explanation.
You can of course share your concerns with other professionals such as teachers, GPs or health visitors but it is likely they may have to pass your concerns on to social services or the police.
We advise you to regularly follow up your report and to report all new concerns to both the police, social services/CPS, and The NSPCC/Childhelp as in some cases concerns can be ignored, not passed on or forgotten.
Below is an overview of the likely course of action if you contact social services, the police or NSPCC with concerns about a child being abused.
Social services have a duty to investigate all allegations of abuse. The risk to the child will be assessed and appropriate action taken. The initial stage of investigation is called a child protection inquiry and will be carried out by a trained social worker or police officer.
The inquiry may last several weeks and may include interviews with the child, the child’s family and anyone else the child has contact with (eg GPs and teachers). The may also include family visits or medical examinations. Usually the child’s parents will be informed that inquiries are being made by the social services but in some cases they may not be told immediately.
On conclusion of their inquiries social services will decide what action is needed. If the child is not at risk no further action will be taken. If the child has been harmed or is at risk of harm, a child protection case conference will be arranged. What has been found out during the inquiry will be discussed at the conference and a protection plan will be drawn up for the child’s safety.
At this point social services may apply to the court for the child to be placed in care, apply to the court to place the child under the supervision of the local authority (which means the child stays at home with the family receiving support and help) or place the child’s name on the child protection register.
If the child is placed on the child protection register it means there is a risk of them being badly harmed. A plan will be drawn up to protect the child and provide support to the child’s family. The plan may involve parenting classes, various safety measures (ie providing stair gate), providing parental support and respite childcare, or an agreement with the child’s parents to place the child in care, either with a foster family, children’s home or residential school. If this happens options for the child to stay with other family members or friends may be explored in the first instance
In cases of serious abuse, and in all cases of sexual abuse, social services will notify the police. If the danger to the child is immediate, social services and the police will ensure either the adult that presents the danger is removed from the home or the child is taken into protective police custody.
By law the police are compelled to investigate any reports of child abuse. In most cases they will contact social services who will carry out their investigations as outlined about. In exceptional circumstances the police can remove a child from their home and take them into ‘police protection’ for up to 72 hours and a court’s permission is not required for this course of action.
As a result of police investigations, legal action may be taken against the abuser.
The NSPCC are always available to offer help, advice and support and can be called free from any landline and most mobile networks. Trained helpline advisers will discuss anything you need to about a child. They will listen, offer advice, guidance and support and help you explore the options. They will always take action if they:
· Believe a child is in immediate danger and will involve the police immediately.
· Believe that a child is at risk of abuse or is being abused. If they have been provided with details that would identify the child and their whereabouts they will contact social services or the police to share the concerns.