Campaign to raise awareness and encourage members of the public to report child abuse and neglect.

DfE report child abuse banner Lambeth is supporting a Government campaign “Together, we can tackle child abuse” that aims to raise awareness and encourage members of the public to report child abuse and neglect.

The campaign aims to encourage the public to report their concerns in order to get help to children more quickly. The aim is to create a new social norm around reporting and tackle the barriers that stop people taking action.

Lambeth Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, Councillor Jane Edbrooke said “Protecting children and young people from abuse is one of the most fundamentally important things we can do in society, and we all have a role to play. While teachers, health professionals, police and local authorities all have their jobs to do, those safeguarding bodies need help.

If everyone can feel confident to report suspicions and concerns they come across in their daily lives, we can be vigilant in protecting vulnerable children and young people from harm.”

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. What to do if you are worried about a child?

All children have a right to be safe and should be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect. Anything you notice can help a child at risk.

If you’re worried about a child, visit GOV.UK's report child abuse page to get the number for your local authority, or for referrals in Lambeth, call 020 7926 5555. If you are a professional working with children, please speak to your Safeguarding Lead first.

Call 999 if the child is at immediate risk.

2. How to spot the signs of child abuse and neglect

To spot the signs, look for changes in ABC:

  • Appearance – such as frequent unexplained injuries, consistently poor hygiene, matted hair, unexplained gifts, or a parent regularly collecting children from school when drunk
  • Behaviour - such as demanding or aggressive behaviour, frequent lateness or absence from school, avoiding their own family, misusing drugs or alcohol, or being constantly tired
  • Communication – such as sexual or aggressive language, self-harming, becoming secretive and reluctant to share information or being overly obedient

Go to the Lambeth Safeguarding Children Board website for more information about types of abuse and links to organisations that can advise.

Most people find the decision to report child abuse a difficult one. They worry about overreacting or being wrong, and may question whether they have strong enough evidence, or if they have misread the signs of abuse or misunderstood a situation.

These fears are understandable, but unfounded.

You don’t need to be absolutely certain of what you’ve seen or heard to call your local children’s social care team. Information is usually gathered from many sources, and your report would form one part of a bigger picture.

Another big worry people have is that someone will find out they have made a report, but this is unlikely to happen as you can make the call anonymously, although most people do give their details.

Some people don’t report suspected abuse because they think it might just be a one-off. But even if that is the case, every child deserves to be protected and it is better to be safe than sorry.

3. Who can you talk to if you suspect child abuse?

If you are concerned about a child, and suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you may not know who to talk to. Research shows that some people prefer to talk to someone such as a partner, family member or friend before making a report - and that’s perfectly fine.

You don’t have to be absolutely certain about whether a child is being abused; if you have a feeling that something’s not right, talk to your local children’s social care team who can look into it. Lambeth’s children social care number is 020 7926 5555. If you are a professional working with children, speak to your Safeguarding Lead first.

Last year 400,000 children in England were supported because someone noticed they needed help. If you think it, report it.

4. What will you be asked when you make a report?

Each local authority has a dedicated children’s social care team, and you should call them if you think a child or young person is at risk or is being abused or neglected.

While it is understood that you might not have all the answers, the following is an example of the types of questions you might be asked:

  • Details about the child, such as name and date of birth
  • Address and contact details for parent or carer
  • Reason for your call

5. What happens once you have made a report?

When you call your local children’s social care team, your concern will be listened to and assessed. Information is usually gathered from many sources, and your report would form one part of a bigger picture.

If significant concerns are raised about a child, a social worker will make an assessment and decide what support to provide.

It may be that the concerns are unfounded and that no further action is necessary, although all concerns are taken seriously.

6. How communities can help protect children

Everyone has a role to play in helping to protect children. All children have a right to be safe and should be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect. It is not just up to social services, teachers, doctors and the police to spot the signs of abuse and neglect.

Members of the public are in a unique position to spot concerns among children with whom they have contact - which may not be apparent to professionals.

It is better to help children as early as possible so that action can be taken to help the child and support the family concerned.

7. Campaign materials

We would very much appreciate if your organisation could support this campaign by printing and displaying these materials and/or putting information on your website:

We also have digital assets available such as animated GIFs or Graphics for your website, social media channels and other digital platforms. Please contact Andrea Klingel at the LSCB aklingel@lambeth.gov.uk to request these.

For more child safeguarding information go to the Lambeth Safeguarding Children Board website where different areas of concerns are covered with links to organisations that provide advice and support. The LSCB website caters for parents and carers, children and young people, people working with children as well as the general public.

We all have a role to play in protecting children and young people. Anything you notice can help a child at risk. Together, we can tackle child abuse.