People encouraged to report their suspicions

Posted on: 27 March 2018

Nearly a third (31 per cent) of parents of under 16s, responding to a YouGov survey*, have worried about a child’s welfare, or about abuse or neglect of a child in their local area.

Just over half (57 per cent) did something about it; confronting it directly, seeking advice, or reporting it to professionals such as a GP, Health Visitor or teacher.

But nearly half didn’t, worried perhaps that they were wrong; that they’d misread the signs and misunderstood a situation. Some may have been worried about repercussions should their reporting of a situation become publicly known.

But Councils across the UK are encouraging people to act on their suspicions.

They say, ‘People don’t have to be absolutely certain about whether a child is being abused. But if they feel that something’s not right, then tell someone.”

“It can make the difference between a child living a happy life, or facing the trauma of abuse or neglect,” says Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi.

And the issue is no one authority’s single responsibility.

Jo Olson is Chair of the Devon’s multi-agency Children and Families Partnership Executive – a partnership whose members include the NHS and Devon and Cornwall Police.  Jo said, on behalf of those agencies:

“Children can only be effectively safeguarded when people work together.

“That means all the key agencies, such as Children’s Social Care, Police, Health, schools, as well as parents, carers, family members and neighbours, all working together to stop harm to children; prevent it from happening in the first place and offer support and safety to children who have been harmed or who are at risk.”

Possible signs of abuse or neglect to look out for include:

Appearance: such as unusual injuries or consistently poor hygiene.

Behaviour: such as being withdrawn, overly anxious, disruptive or self-harming or any other sudden changes in behaviour.

Communication: such as talking aggressively, using sexual language or becoming secretive.

The advice to anyone in Devon who may have suspicions of child abuse or neglect is to contact Devon’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0345 155 1071 and staff will offer support to determine the right response.

For more information about how to report suspected child abuse, visit Devon County Council’s

*Figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,407 adults, including 867 parents of under 16s, in England. The survey was carried out online between 27 December 2017 and 4 January 2018

Posted in: DCC Homepage | Health and Wellbeing