Public asked to help tackle child abuse

Posted on: 6th March 2016

Displaying image002.jpgDisplaying image002.jpgDisplaying image002.jpgCornwall Council Logo - Press Release

Public asked to help tackle child abuse, in a press release from Cornwall’s Local Children’s Safeguarding Board.

With more than 40% of people in the South West saying they would put off reporting their concerns over a child they suspected was being abused or neglected in case they were wrong, John Clements ,the Independent Chair of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), is calling on the public to help tackle child abuse.

A range of partners, including Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly, and the LSCB, working together to support a new campaign being launched by the Government to encourage members of the public to report child abuse.

The theme of the national campaign, which is being formally launched by the Department for Education on Thursday, 3 March, is “Together, we can tackle child abuse“ and involves Local Safeguarding Children Boards, councils, charities, police forces, health partners and local community groups from across the country working with the DfE to raise awareness of the importance of the public reporting concerns about children suffering from abuse or neglect.

In 2014/2015 more than 400,000 children in England were supported because someone noticed they needed help.  However a quarter of children referred to children’s social care were referred by the police.

At the same time a survey showed that while 17% of people in the South West said they had suspected a child had been or was currently suffering child abuse or neglect, 37% were put off reporting their concerns because they thought they might be wrong, with 27% saying they would wait until they were absolutely certain abuse or neglect was taking place before making a report.  41% said they would find reporting child abuse and neglect more challenging than delivering news about the death of a friend or family member, with 34% saying they would find reporting child abuse and neglect more challenging than reporting the crime of a family member.

The main aim of the national campaign, which will address all forms of abuse and neglect, is to encourage the public to report any concerns they might have about a child in order to get help to the child more quickly.  The DfE specifically want to tackle the barriers that stop people taking action.

“Many forms of abuse and neglect present alongside one another and the most common reason for a child to be in the child protection system is neglect” said John Clements. 

 “Research shows that nationally a third of people who suspect child abuse, do nothing, with many failing to act on their suspicions because they’re worried about being wrong.  We know that many people find the decision to report child abuse a difficult one but all children have a right to be safe and should be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect. It is not just up to social services, doctors and the police to spot the signs of abuse and neglect. 

 “Members of the public are in a unique position to spot concerns among children with whom they have contact which may not be apparent to professionals.  It is always better to help children as early as possible so that action can be taken to help the child and support the family concerned.”

Adding that members of the public don’t have to be absolutely certain about their suspicions, John said that anyone who had a feeling that something was not right should report their concerns to a member of the children’s social care team.

Concerns over the welfare of a child in Cornwall should be reported to the Multi Agency Referral Unit on 0300 123 1116, with concerns over the welfare of a child in the isles of Scilly reported to the Council’s Children’s Social Care team on 01720 424354.  Concerns can also be reported to Devon and Cornwall police on 101.