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Child Protection

What is Child Abuse?

All children have the right to be looked after properly, kept safe and protected from harm.

Child abuse is the ill treatment or neglect of a child by an adult or young person resulting in the child suffering significant harm. Abuse of a child can be sexual, physical, emotional or neglect. Child abuse and neglect occurs to children of both sexes, of all ages, and in all cultures and social classes.

Things can go wrong for all sorts of reasons in any kind of family at any time, which sometimes means that children suffer as a result.


  • Most families make sure their children are looked after and protected from danger.
  • Children of all ages can be abused.
  • Child abuse can happen to children from any social background
  • Children who have learning difficulties, physical disabilities or sensory impairment (children without sight or hearing) are more likely to suffer abuse and they may find it even more difficult to tell someone if they are being abused.
  • Children are not always abused by a stranger. In fact experience shows that they are often abused by someone they or their family know, either a relative, friend or trusted outsider.
  • Children may also be sexually, physically or emotionally abused by other children or young people in their family or outside.

Forms of Abuse

Physical Abuse

Physical injury to a child by a parent or other carer.

When should I be worried?

You should be worried when a child:

  • Has unexplained injuries or too many injuries
  • Has bruises where you would not normally expect to find them
  • Is being shaken
  • Receives punishments that seem too harsh or too frequent.

Sexual Abuse

The use of a child to satisfy another person's sexual needs or the sexual exploitation of a child or adolescent. Children may sexually abuse other children.

When should I be worried?

You should be worried when:

  • A child behaves in a very sexual way or appears to have too much sexual knowledge.
  • A relationship between a child and adult seems in appropriate, for example, overly affectionate in an adult way. 
  • A child tells you about sexual activity between themselves and someone older, or talks about 'secrets' that someone has told them not to say anything about to other adults.  


Failure to meet a child's basic needs for food, warmth, love, protection and care (Neglect can be of a physical and/or psychological nature).

When should I be worried?

You should be worried when a child: 

  • Appears delayed in their development
  • Appears to be too thin or always hungry
  • Is left alone or looked after by an unsuitable baby-sitter
  • Lacks friendships
  • Is not clothed properly and is often dirty and smelly
  • Has untreated injuries or illnesses
  • Has a lot of accidents and, due to lack of supervision, is allowed to get into dangerous situations
  • Lives in squalid conditions 

Emotional Abuse

Harm to the emotional and psychological well-being or development of a child caused by emotional ill treatment or the rejection of carers. Children can also be emotionally harmed by witnessing the abuse of others, for example during domestic abuse. 

When should I be worried?

You should be worried when a child:

  • Is withdrawn or anxious
  • Looses confidence and self esteem
  • Seems to be unable to communicate
  • Is ignored or their parents say harsh and cruel things about them and appear not to like them
  • Is isolated and has no contact with friends or extended family

Note: All abuse involves some emotional ill treatment.

Some behavioural signs of children who have been abused include:

  • Running away
  • Harming themselves
  • Becoming secretive
  • Changes in behaviour,for example., becoming aggressive or depressed, eating disorders, wetting or soiling
  • Attempting suicide
  • Poor self image 
  • Lack confidence
  • Delayed development

Note: These behavioural signs may be a result of other things happening in the child's life.

Behaviour of abusing parents or carers

You should be worried when parents or carers:

  • Are overly critical and lack warmth
  • Appear unaware of what their child needs or how to look after them or have unrealistic expectations
  • Never show any affection or seem uninterested
  • Appear unconcerned about their child getting injured or provide unlikely explanations
  • Have drug, alcohol, mental health, or domestic violence related problems
  • Leave their children at home alone
  • Allow their children to play out unsupervised late at night or in dangerous places  
Don't assume someone else will be doing something about it.

Children can not always ask for help themselves.

Do not delay reporting your concerns.

Whom should I contact?

You can contact Doncaster Council either by telephone or going to Civic Office, Waterdale, Doncaster and asking to speak to the Duty Child Care Social Worker on01302 737777

During office hours 
Carr House Centre, Danum Road, Bennetthorpe, Doncaster:
Telephone (01302) 734739 Fax (01302) 735872 
Out of office hours
You should contact the Emergency Social Services Team on 01302 796000 or your nearest Police station.

Do I have to give my name?

If you give your name it will be treated confidentially. The most important thing is to tell Doncaster Council or the Police about the children you are worried about. We take all calls about child abuse seriously whether you give your name or not.

What information must I give?

You need to give as much information as possible or at least enough information so that the family can be contacted, for example, names, addresses and date of birth if possible. It is important to say why you are worried about the child.

What will happen next?

A social worker will make enquiries about your concerns. Social workers have a legal duty to follow up any reports of child abuse under the Children Act 1989.

When a social worker makes enquiries about your concerns they may:

  • Talk to you about your concerns if possible
  • Talk to other professional people, in confidence, who know the family, for example, teachers, health visitors, and doctors
  • Discuss your concerns with the police where appropriate
  • Talk to the parents or carer and the child

Once the information is gathered a decision is made about the best course of action to ensure the safety and well being of the child.

Page last updated 11/03/2014 15:30:43
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