Advice and guidance if you suspect child abuse

Potentially, child abuse can appear in many guises but, in reality, the definition is less complicated. It's where a child is being, or has been, harmed or not looked after properly. The key thing is that, although it's known as 'child abuse', the definition extends to all young people up to the age of 18 years of age.

If you suspect that any child or young person is being subjected to abuse, or you are otherwise concerned about their welfare or well-being, please get in touch with the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub immediately. Everything you tell us will be in confidence.

Types of child abuse

Physical abuse

This is where someone hurts a child or young person on purpose. This can include such things as:  

  • Hitting or punching
  • Shaking or throwing
  • Burning or scalding
  • Poisoning
  • Drowning, suffocating or strangling
  • Fabricating symptoms of illness in a child
  • Causing harm to a child by any means 

Emotional abuse 

Although not resulting in any physical signs of abuse, emotional abuse can be equally as devastating and can seriously affect confidence, not only in childhood, but also carrying on into adulthood. Emotional abuse is far more subtle and potentially wide ranging. Examples of emotional abuse are:

  • Telling a child that they are unloved
  • Making them feel inadequate or worthless
  • Blaming them unfairly and making them feel that they are the cause of a problem
  • Causing a child to feel frightened or in danger
  • Making age-inappropriate demands of them
  • Causing the child, by any means, to feel bad about themselves or feel that they don't 'fit in' at school, home or anywhere else 


Neglect is when a child or young person is not being looked after properly, so that it impacts on their health or physical/emotional well-being. Neglect can be manifested in many ways, for example:

  • Failure to provide adequate food or nourishment for a child
  • Not providing adequate shelter and clothing
  • Not allowing the child access to medical care or treatment
  • Leaving a child unsupervised such that it may be in a position of danger
  • Not meeting a child’s emotional needs
  • Intentionally placing a child in an unsafe situation

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is forced or enticed to take part in sexual activities. This is true regardless of whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. There are many ways in which a child can be sexually abused including: 

  • Making them do sexual things, either to themselves or with other people
  • Encouraging children to behave sexually
  • Involving children in the production of, or viewing, pornographic material

Get in touch

If you or someone else that you know is being subjected to any of the above, it is important to get help. If you are at all concerned about the welfare or well-being of a child or young person, please get in touch with us at the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub so that we can investigate the situation.

And remember, you don't have to give your name if you contact us. We will treat anything you tell us with the utmost confidentiality.

Last updated: 30 January 2017. Was this information helpful?

Help us improve

Please don't include personal information such as your name and address.