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Concerned About a Child

Child Protection Committee Orkney logo.

Most of us want the best for children. We want to make sure they are safe, protected and well-cared for. However, we know that some children do not receive the love, care or even basic support they need.

Many children and young people are not able to tell adults that they are being abused or neglected. They may be too afraid or have been told to keep what is happening a secret. They may not even understand that anything is wrong.

Children rely on well-meaning adults to look out for them

You may become concerned about the way a child looks or acts, how an adult behaves towards a child or because of something a child tells you. If a child discloses something to you, please take it seriously and act on it.

Signs to be concerned about in a child

  • Not getting enough food to eat.
  • Not regularly attending school or nursery.
    Wearing dirty clothes or looking unkempt.
  • Showing signs of physical injury, such as bruises, scalds or burn marks.
  • Drinking alcohol, using drugs or other harmful substances.
  • Being afraid or reluctant to go home.
  • Appearing unusually withdrawn and socially isolated.
  • Being left unsupervised for unsafe periods or having inappropriate caring duties for their siblings or parents because their parents/carers are ill, sick or hungover.

Signs to be concerned about in a parent/carer

  • Behaving in a sexually inappropriate way towards a child.
  • Mis-using drugs or alcohol while caring for a child.
  • Being physically or verbally aggressive towards a child.
  • Regularly shouting or screaming at, criticising, humiliating or ignoring a child.

What should you do if you are worried about a child?

If you have concerns about the safety or welfare of a child or young person, it is important to listen to your instincts, they are rarely wrong.

  • Discuss your concerns with a professional, such as a teacher, doctor, health visitor or social worker.
  • Contact Orkney Health and Care Children and Families Services on 01856873535.
  • If your concern is an emergency and occurs outwith office hours, please phone 01856888000.

What will happen when I tell someone?

When you contact Children and Families Services they will listen to your concerns. A worker will see if the child and family are currently receiving support, and if not, may contact the family to see if help is required.

If the allegation is serious, a child protection investigation may be carried out jointly with the police. In most cases, support will be provided to the family and the child will continue to live at home. In a few extremely serious cases, the child may be removed to a place of safety to stop them from being abused or neglected.

The NSPCC  helpline (08088005000) is for anyone worried about a child. A trained helpline counsellor can offer help, advice and support 24/7.

Additional websites are available from the 'Related Sites' section of this page.

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