Below is a very good basic guide to Child Abuse and Child Protection processes - taken from London Borough of Newham's website at http://www.newham.gov.uk/HealthAndSocialCare/ProtectingChildren/ProtectingChildren.htm
All families have their ups and downs. We work with families and children to help resolve their problems.
When things go wrong in our lives we can sometimes misdirect our feelings and take our anger out on the people closest to us. Sometimes this can include children. Very few adults hurt children deliberately and usually it is a sign that families need help.
Possible signs of abuse:
- Unexplained or untreated injuries
- Cigarette burns, bite or belt marks
- Covering arms or legs unnecessarily
- Flinching when touched
- Poor personal hygiene
- Constantly hungry
- Dishevelled appearance
- Extremes of emotion
- Sudden speech disorders
- Delayed development in babies
- Stomach pains
- Discomfort when walking
- Inappropriate (sexually explicit) language or behaviour
- Aggressive or withdrawn behaviour
- Fear of one person
- Pain, itching, bruising or bleeding in the genital area
What should I do if I am worried about a child?
It can be difficult to report someone you suspect may be hurting a child but any concerns you have will be treated in the strictest confidence. If you believe a child has suffered physical injury, neglect, sexual or emotional abuse, contact social services immediately.
If you believe a child is in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
What will happen?
If we believe a child may have been harmed or is at risk we will try to find out what has happened and decide what support and protection will best help the family. In some cases, the Newham Police child protection team will investigate with social workers to decide whether a crime has been committed. Our work is about putting children first and protecting people who can't protect themselves.
In these situations it is difficult to avoid some intrusion into family life. A social worker will ask questions about family circumstances, consider the frequency and seriousness of incidents and the effect on the child. All of these factors will guide the decisions about what should happen next in order to support and protect the child and their family.
If child abuse is suspected, social services and the police have a legal duty to investigate.
Working together to protect children
Social workers are expected to make sure children are safe. In order to do this they talk with other professionals who know the child to find out if they have any concerns. These include health visitors, teachers, hospital workers and nursery workers.
In order for social workers to make effective plans to protect children, they also rely on information from parents, family and the local community who all play an important part in identifying concerns about those close to them. This helps to ensure families are offered support before the situation becomes more serious.
If I report a concern will the child be removed from home?
Removing a child from home is not the aim of child protection and it rarely happens. In most cases, we work with families to support and protect children. Children can only be removed from their home with a court order if a judge decides there is a serious and immediate risk to a child's safety, although in emergency situations the police have the power to remove a child for up to 72 hours.
If you are concerned about a child, you can ring any of the following:
Newham Social Services: 020 8430 2000
Police: 999 (emergencies) or 020 8534 1212
NSPCC: 0800 800 5000
Parentline Plus: 0808 800 2222
You can also email us at: email@example.com
If you would like to speak to someone in person you can visit one of Newham's local service centres.