Worried about a child

Worried about a child

Getting support

Very few adults harm children deliberately and most often, when harm does happen, families need support, not punishment or the removal of their children. Social Workers and other professionals get involved when parents may be unable to protect their child from harm and need some help. In some cases the Police Child Abuse Investigation Teams will work with Social Workers to help protect children and decide whether an offence has been committed.

If you believe a child is suffering or is likely to suffer harm, or if you are worried about your own behaviour and need support contact your local Children’s Social Care Team. In an emergency call 999.

When we suspect, witness or are told of a child that is being harmed, action should be taken to stop things getting worse. Even if you think an incident is just a one-off, your information could be very important. Long-term abuse can have a negative affect on a child for the rest of their lives.

Abuse at home

When we suspect abuse of a child in our own home, we can react in many different ways. We may feel guilt, anger, disbelief or denial. Some of these reactions can prevent getting help to a child who needs it. You may not tell others because you fear that the child will be at further risk of harm. You may love the person who is causing the harm and not want to believe what is happening. You need to put your child’s safety first.

What can I do?

If someone you know is having difficulties, you could offer the following:

  • A listening ear.

  • Ideas to cope with problems.

  • Encouragement to get help.

  • Practical support (for example offering to babysit).

If the family is unable to cope and they do nothing to get help you need to report it. In an emergency call 999.


There are many signs of abuse, from physical and emotional injury leading to changes in behaviour.


Make sure your child knows who they can share worries with if and when they need to.


Seek advice about what practical and emotional support is available from schools and Children’s Centres.