Child protection - concerned about possible abuse?
What you should do if you are concerned that a child is at risk of harm.
If you are concerned that a child is at risk of harm, contact Social Services.
In an emergency, contact the police on 101 or dial 999.
What is child abuse?
Some children living within their own families or communities experience inappropriate behaviour which can have an adverse effect on the child's wellbeing now and in the future. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm,or by failing to act to prevent harm. As well as children abused within their own families or communities, some children may also be abused in an institutional setting by someone known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger.
Abuse can take on many forms, including:
- physical abuse
- emotional abuse
- sexual abuse
- financial abuse
It can occur across all social groups. All adults have a responsibility to protect children.
The Children Act 1989 puts a legal obligation on Social Services to take action when any information comes in to say that any child may be in danger of being hurt or neglected.
What should I do if I am concerned a child may be being abused?
Contact the Child and Family Information, Advice and Assistance Team Swansea Single Point of Contact (SPOC)
Do not attempt to investigate your suspicions yourself.
In an emergency always call 999.
What information do I need to provide?
The more information you are able to provide, the easier it will be for Social Services staff to trace any existing records about the child. The child's full name, address and date of birth are the most useful information. If you do not know all of these, other information such as names of parents or siblings, or the school the child attends might help. You will need to explain why you are concerned about the child, giving as much detail as you can.
You can provide the information anonymously if you wish, though it can be helpful to have your details in case the information given needs to be clarified during the course of enquiries. As a member of the public your identity would be kept confidential within the team(s) investigating your report.
What will happen next?
Enquiries must be made to find out what the facts are and to decide on whether a child is or may be suffering harm either physically or emotionally. Depending on the nature of the information received, it may be necessary to involve other agencies, such as the police.
Professionally trained staff will talk to the family about their concerns and hear their views on the matter. They will also see and talk to the child(ren) involved and any other people who may have relevant information.
What will happen as a result of these enquiries?
Social Services may be able to provide support or advice to the family, or refer them to another agency that can help with their problems.
In some cases it may be necessary to call a Child Protection Conference where professional staff from several agencies will meet to discuss the concerns about the child and agree the best way to protect the child and support the family.
Wherever possible, Social Services will keep a family together while we work with them to resolve the difficulties they are experiencing.
In a few cases it may be thought by the professionals involved that a child is in immediate danger of harm or that the risk of damage to a child is so great that they should not live with a particular person or people. In such cases, the child(ren) will usually be looked after by the local authority although we would first find out whether there were any friends or relatives who could help. Often it is possible for the child to return home when identified problems have been worked on and overcome.
What if I am mistaken and there is no evidence of abuse?
Sometimes enquiries show no significant areas of concern for the child and there is no need for any further action to be taken. However it is better to have a situation checked out and find all is well than to ignore possible warning signs and endanger a child.