Back to The duty to report a child at risk of abuse, neglect and/ or harm

Recognising a child is at risk of harm

The definitions of risk are outlined in Section 1.

The definition of harm explained in Section 3 part 1.

Pointers for Practice: The signs and indicators of possible abuse and neglect

Pointers for Practice: Potential Barriers to Recognising and Reporting Abuse and Neglect

Evidence required

As evidence of abuse or neglect may not always be present suspicion of abuse or neglect may take the form of ‘concerns’ rather than ‘known facts’. Rather, practitioners may suspect abuse or neglect of a child.

Example: a member of staff in a family centre notices changes in behaviour in a child that coincides with mother’s new partner moving into the family home.

In some cases, ‘concerns’ may be based on information derived from a variety of sources and/or accumulated over time.

Example: suspected abuse or neglect may result from an accumulation of information obtained within a school from the child, family member, class teacher, and support staff.

Alternatively, reports may be received in isolation, that when consider holistically suggests the child may be suffering abuse/neglect. Practitioners should remember therefore that their concerns may, in isolation, not be significant. However, alongside those from other agencies and sources they may build up a picture which suggests that a child may be suffering harm.

Example, A GP sees a child with eczema who does not appear to be responding to treatment. Whilst the parent assures the doctor the prescribed treatments are being followed the GP questions whether the child is being neglected. She consults initially with other health professionals and the information shared indicates the child is at risk of neglect. – the GP has a duty to report this information.

Concerns about abuse and neglect may also be present when a child is already known to social services. Do not presume because the child is known that there is no need to report. – Always report.

Abusive settings

Abuse can occur anywhere. For example, in the home, a residential or day care setting, during leisure activities, at schools, youth clubs. It may occur in private or in a public setting such as a swimming pool. Abuse can also occur on-line or on any social media platform.

The concerns may be about the behaviour of a member of staff; volunteer, carer, other child or family member or member of the community.

The concerns may also be present when the individual is already known to social services. Therefore, do not presume because the individual is known to Social Services there is no need to report. – Always report.