In the context of your working contact with children, it is important that you are aware of the kinds of harm or abuse that children and young people may be exposed to which you ought to pass on as directed by your service or organisational child protection guidance.  This will usually direct you to pass your concerns, without delay, to your line manager or supervisor. In some cases, professionals such as health visitors, head teachers or school nurses may pass on concerns directly to either social work services or the police as directed by their specific operational guidance.

It is important that children and young people are listened to and taken seriously when they tell adults what is happening to them. The most important things to remember are;

  • To listen
  • To explain to the child/young person that you will require to pass the information on in order that they get the help and support they need
  • To pass on the information given to you by the child/young person timeously

You may also become concerned by observing that a child has a bruise or injury which is concerning. In these circumstances, the important things to remember are:

  • It is fine to ask a child what happened, and allow them to tell you without being interrupted or questioned further
  • To explain to the child/young person that you will require to pass the information on in order that they get the help and support they need
  • To pass on the information given to you by the child/young person timeously

Remember; it is important that you do not make promises you cannot keep; for example if a child asks you not to tell anyone else, you cannot agree to this.

After you have passed on the information to the appropriate person, it is always helpful to take a few moments to write down what happened and what the child said to you.

Additional information 

Children and young people may be harmed in a number of ways. These can include (the examples below are not exhaustive)

  • Physical assaults; for example hitting, punching and kicking.  Indicators to be aware of may include; bruising or other marks which are unusual or inconsistent with play, burns or bite marks.
  • Sexual abuse; for example inappropriate touching, exposure to sexually explicit materials, inappropriate sexual activity. Indicators to be aware of may include; sexualised play or language, a lack of boundaries with other children or adults or sexualised behaviour which is not commensurate with their age.  The child may also present as dirty or smelly although this is more often an indicator of neglect.
  • Neglect; this occurs where children or young people's basic physical or psychological needs are not being met.  This may include parents or carers failing to provide adequate food shelter of clothing, failing to provide medical care and attention or adequate safe care and/or supervision.  Indicators may include children present as dirty, hungry, withdrawn or as having persistent health issues which are untreated - such as poor dental health.  
  • Emotional abuse; this may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, scapegoated, blamed.  It can also include the placing of inappropriate expectations and/or controls on a child/young person.

It is important to be aware that children with a disability are particularly vulnerable to abuse; it is vital that if you are working with disabled children that you also consider all of the above where you are concerned for their welfare, and discuss any concerns you may have with your supervisor or line manager, or if appropriate pass on your concerns directly.

Remember

It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect children and young people from abuse and exploitation. 

If you are unsure – ask for advice; the most important thing to remember is to act quickly – either to seek advice or pass on your concerns. 

Contact Details

Glasgow and Partners Emergency Social Work Service

0300 343 1505

Scotland's Children's Reporters Administration

0131 244 8540

Information for Children and Families about the Children's Hearing System in Scotland

Childline

0800 1111

Parenting and Family Support (family lives)

08000 28 22 33

National Child Protection Line

0800 022 3222

NHS 24

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