Worried a child is being harmed

All children have the right to grow up in a safe environment. Safeguarding children is everyone’s business. This means protecting children from physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect.

If you are concerned about the safety of a child please report it:

If a child is at immediate risk of harm contact the police on 999

Please see the links below to report concerns in your area:

Other useful contact numbers:

NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000 or visit the NSPCC.

Childline 0800 1111 or visit the Childline website.

These signs don’t necessarily mean that a child is being abused, there could be other things in their life affecting their behaviour.

Some common signs:

  • Unexplained changes in behaviour or personality
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Seeming anxious
  • Becoming uncharacteristically aggressive
  • Lacks social skills
  • Poor bond or relationship with a parent
  • Knowledge of adult issues inappropriate for their age
  • Running away or going missing
  • Always wearing clothes which cover their body

You may notice worrying behaviour from adults you know have children in their care

Different types of child abuse have different signs. Some of the different types of abuse are:

  • Bullying and cyberbullying
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Child trafficking
  • Criminal exploitation and gangs
  • Domestic abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Grooming
  • Neglect
  • Non-recent abuse
  • Online abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse

For more information about the different types of abuse visit the NSPCC website.

Before starting a difficult chat think about where and how to talk so children will listen.

Find a private time and place.

It’s never easy to start a serious conversation with a child. It can help to try to prompt them with a TV show or book to introduce the topic. Try asking them what they think about a topic.

Keep the conversation going. It might take time for your child to understand what you’re saying and that’s OK.

Listening is important too. It is important to show you are listening to your child and value what they are telling you.

For more advice:

NSPCC, Talking about Difficult Topics. 

NSPCC, Hints and tips to keep your child safe, 'Talk Pants'. 

Evidence suggests children under 1 year old, particularly those under 6 months, are most at risk of physical abuse. “Sentinel injuries” are minor injuries which are unexplained or poorly explained. They can happen before escalating abuse and are significant.

Most areas in West Yorkshire have a policy where all bruising, burns or scalds to babies and children who are not self-mobile have a multi-agency review (this is usually health and social care) to assess risk of harm. This review is needed regardless of the explanation for the injury or professionals own opinion about how the injury may have been caused.

Read the 'What is going on?' information leaflet for parents and carers about possible injuries in non-mobile children by the Bradford Partnership. 

Your child’s rights are: 

• To be heard 

• To have their views and feelings considered 

• To have appropriate confidentiality 

• To be protected and supported 

• To be kept involved and informed, according to their age and understanding 

• To ask for explanations and to complain 

• To consent or refuse to consent for medical examination if they fully understand what is involved


Your rights as a parent or carer are: 

• To be heard 

• To be informed and involved 

• To be supported 

• To ask for explanations 

• To have appropriate confidentiality 

• To seek legal advice and to complain 

• To have an interpreter if needed

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across West Yorkshire with consent from the Hampshire development groups.