The signs of abuse are not always obvious and if a child is experiencing abuse, they might not understand that what is happening to them is wrong, or they may be too frightened to tell anyone. We can help protect children by teaching them how to stay safe from abuse and helping them identify a trusted adult to talk to if they are worried or feel unsafe. If you are worried or concerned about a child/young person, it is important that you speak to a professional as soon as possible.
If you are concerned that a child may be at risk of harm from abuse or neglect then please contact your local Family Team. If you are worried that a child is at immediate risk of harm then phone the Police without delay.
Contact numbers for Local Family Team and the Police are available at www.hcpc.scot
Police 101 (non-urgent)
Out of hours Social Work Emergency Service: 08457 697284
Some common signs that there may be something concerning happening in a child’s life include:
Unexplained changes in behaviour or personality
Becoming uncharacteristically aggressive
Poor bond or relationship with parent
Lacks social skills and has few friends, if any
Knowledge of adult issues inappropriate for their age
Running away or going missing
Always choosing to wear clothes that cover up their body
These signs don’t necessarily mean that a child is being abused, there could be other things happening in their life which are affecting their behaviour. Please talk to a professional for help.
You may also notice some concerning behaviour from adults who you know have children in their care, which makes you concerned for the child/children’s safety and wellbeing.
If Abuse is Disclosed or Discovered
If a child does disclose abuse or neglect it is vital to respond carefully and appropriately so they are reassured. Here are a few ways to help handle these situations:
Listen carefully to the child
React calmly and try not to panic
Try not to express disbelief or shock - the child may stop talking
Let them know you believe them - children seldom lie about abuse
Acknowledge how difficult it must have been for the child to confide
Reassure the child that they are not to blame and were right to tell
Explain to the child what action you are going to take