Call 999 if it is an emergency and the child is in immediate danger
If you are concerned about a child, this page has information on signs of abuse and how to respond if a child tells you about abuse or you believe they are being abused.
What is child abuse?
Child abuse falls into several different categories. These can include the following:
Physical abuse SHOW
Described by the NSPCC as “deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts”. Physical abuse may include hitting, punching, burning, poisoning, attempted drowning and smothering.
Emotional abuse SHOW
Described by the NSPCC as “the ongoing emotional maltreatment of a child”. It can mean repeatedly rejecting a child, constantly threatening or putting a child or young person down so that they feel unloved and worthless.
Sexual abuse SHOW
Described by the NSPCC as “when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities”. It can include inappropriate touching, kissing or sexual intercourse. It can also involve causing a child to look at, or being involved in pornographic material or videos.
Described by the NSPCC as “the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs”. It involves the persistent lack of essential care for a child including enough love, stimulation, safety, food, clothing, shelter, medical care or education. It can also mean leaving a child alone and at risk.
Bruising in non-mobile infants SHOW
When bruising is noticed on a baby, the Local Safeguarding Children's Board (LSCB) has a protocol that is followed across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Bruising in babies who are not rolling or crawling is unusual. It is very unusual for a baby to get a bruise during everyday activities such as nappy changes, bathing or feeding. Bruising can be related to a health condition which has not been previously identified. However, sometimes bruising in babies is due to a deliberate injury and therefore it is important that each baby is fully assessed.
- A referral is made to Children’s Services who act as a single point of contact
- The baby’s case will be assessed by Children’s Services. Part of this assessment involves gathering information from other agencies who may hold information about the family, or who may be working directly with them
- A request will be made for an assessment by a paediatrician at the local hospital or community health clinic. This is usually done as soon as possible the same day
This leaflet has been developed across the four LSCB areas to reassure and explain the protocol for assessing bruises in non-mobile babies to parents and carers.
Children left alone SHOW
What do you do if you're worried about a child being left at home alone?
- Parents who have little support
- A child, who is often seen outside and all alone for long periods of time
- Childcare arrangements that keep going wrong
If there is immediate risk of harm to a child, call the police.
What to say
If you are worried about a child being left alone, talk to the parent, a Health Visitor, Teacher or a Social Worker.
Think about shared babysitting and chat to neighbours, friends or other parents. Find out about after school clubs and holiday play schemes.
You can find advice on the NSPCC website.
How to respond to a child who tells you about abuse
If a child talks to you about abuse, neglect or mistreatment they are experiencing, it is important that you remain calm and reassuring so that the child feels listened to and understood. It is also important that the person they speak to responds appropriately to get the child the support they need. Some tips on how to respond are:
- Take any disclosure seriously and report it no matter how unlikely it might seem
- Make notes about what has happened - when and where the discussion happened, who was present and what the child said
- Once you have decided to report it, do not ask further questions. Let professionals take over from here
You might find the NSPCC resources on helping children disclose abuse helpful.
What to do if you think a child is being abused
If you have concerns about a child, you can report this to us by filling in the online referral form.
Before you fill in this form
You won't be able to save this form to complete later, so please allow yourself up to 10 minutes to fill in the form.
Although this online form can be completed on a mobile phone, due to the length of this form we recommend you use a desktop, laptop or tablet.
Should you wish to discuss your concerns first, you can call us.
Members of the public can phone us on 023 8083 3004.
If you are a professional, please contact us on 023 8083 2300.