We all have a role to play in protecting children from child abuse and neglect but most of us find the decision to report child abuse and neglect a difficult one. We worry about the process of doing so; how we actually report it, what the next steps are, and if we have even misread or misunderstood the signs of abuse and neglect we think we have. These fears are completely understandable but the Department of Education has just started a new campaign in order to change these worries and concerns into confident decision-making tools.
‘Together we can tackle child abuse’ is a first of its kind government led campaign which aims to educate people like you and me about how to report child abuse and neglect and when to report it. New research shows that a third of people who suspect child abuse and neglect, do nothing. I have had personal experience of this and it took a lot for me to work out what to do and decide to report it to the relevant authorities. My main worries and concerns were that I may have misunderstood what I was witnessing, I (wrongly) thought the children involved could potentially be taken away from their parents and I would be breaking up a family, and also in my experience, it was obvious it was me that had reported it and I was worried about possible implications for my family. It took me nearly a week to report what I had seen because of these worries.
The new campaigns main messages are; you don’t need to be absolutely certain of what you’ve seen or heard to call your local children’s social care team. Any information you give is gathered from different places and what you report only forms one piece of this. You can make the call completely anonymously so that no one knows it is you that has reported it. Some people don’t report their worries because they think it might just be a one-off. Even if that is the case, every child deserves to be protected and it is better to be safe than sorry.
The campaign makes spotting child abuse or neglect simpler and easier by using ABC: Appearance, Behaviour, and Communication.
Previously there has not been enough information out there to make the process easy to know what to do or who to go to. Knowing all of this, I would be far more confident in making a decision about something I had witnessed or heard. It’s so important that we raise any concerns we may have if we feel it’s appropriate to do so and if nothing else, feel that if ever in that situation, we would now know what to do.
‘Together we can tackle child abuse’ #tackleabusetogether
If you’re worried about a child, visit gov.uk/reportchildabuse to get the number for your local authority.
Written with the help of the Department of Education, however all words, opinions and experiences are my own