What is child abuse & safeguarding?

Safeguarding means protecting children from harm and supporting their wellbeing.

Child protection is part of the safeguarding process when there are concerns about a child. It is where professionals (such as social workers) work together to protect children/young people that are suffering harm or are likely to suffer harm. Child protection plans detail how adults (professionals and parents/carers) involved with a child or young person will support and protect them

Everyone that works with or comes into contact with children have a responsibility to ensure that every child is protected from harm. This includes schools, sports and activity clubs, police or hospitals for example. All children have the right to be protected from harm, regardless of their age, disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief.

Safeguarding means:

  • protecting children and young people from abuse and harm
  • preventing harm to children’s and young people’s health or development
  • ensuring children and young people grow up with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes.

Child abuse is when a child (anyone under the age of 18) is harmed on purpose by an adult or another child.

It can happen over a long period of time or it can happen as a one off action. Child abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional and it can happen in person or online.

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Some of the main forms of child abuse are:

Emotional abuse icon

Emotional Abuse

When someone always puts you down, shouts at you or makes you feel bad, this is emotional abuse.

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Physical abuse icon

Physical Abuse

When someone hurts you on purpose.

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Sexual abuse icon

Sexual Abuse

When a young person is forced, tricked or pressured to do something sexual.

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Domestic violence icon

Domestic Abuse

When a grown up threatens, bullies or hurts another adult in the family.

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What is Neglect?

There is a difference between things we want and things we need. Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs.

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If the people who are supposed to look after you don’t give you the things you need or make it hard for you to take care of yourself, then this is neglect. It can make you feel unloved or unimportant.

As a child you have the right to be well looked after but sometimes parents and carers are not able to manage this by themselves. There are lots of reasons why your parent or carer might be neglecting you. They might be doing their best, but just don’t have enough money. Maybe they have a problem with alcohol or drugs, or are having problems with their mental health. Whatever the reason is, it is still your parents or carers job to make sure you are properly looked after.

If you think you are being neglected you should talk to someone you trust such as a teacher so you and your parents/carers can get the help your family need. No matter what problems your parents are having, there will be someone who can help.

Teen boy in hoodie

Being looked after properly and having your needs met means you feel confident you will have access to:

  • Clean, warm clothes and shoes
  • Enough to eat and drink
  • Protection and guidance from dangerous situations
  • Somewhere warm and comfortable to sleep
  • Help when you are ill or you’ve been hurt
  • Comfort and affection
  • A reliable person to listen to your thoughts and feelings
  • Support with your education

Neglect is the opposite and is when you aren’t being looked after properly.

  • You may not have clothes to keep you warm
  • You may feel hungry a lot and do not have enough food to eat
  • You may be left with people who you do not feel safe with
  • You may not have somewhere safe to stay
  • You may not be taken to the doctor when you are unwell
  • You may not get any support from an adult
  • You may be left alone for a long time
  • You may be given too much responsibility for looking after other people

Getting help

If you are affected by child abuse or neglect, it can really help to talk to someone you trust.

Where can I get help?