Together we can tackle child abuse in the borough of Richmond
Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Richmond Council are supporting a national campaign to raise awareness of child abuse.
The "Together, we can tackle child abuse" campaign has been launched by the Department for Education to encourage the public to act when they suspect child abuse or neglect. It also dispels some misconceptions the public may have about making a report to the Council's children's services team.
A third of people who suspect child abuse do nothing. Many are put off reporting because they think they might be wrong or it is just a 'one-off.' The reality is that information is usually gathered from lots of different sources, such as teachers, GPs and from the police, so any report made by a member of the public would just form one part of a bigger picture.
In 2014/15, more than 400,000 children in England were supported because someone noticed they needed help. Everyone has a role to play in protecting children and young people from all forms of abuse and neglect.
Sian Thomas, Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children at NHS Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "All children have the right to be safe and should be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect. If you have a feeling that something's not right, talk to someone. Partner agencies across the borough work together to protect children and young people from abuse and neglect.
"There is a common misconception that reporting a child or family to 'social services' means the child will be removed from their family immediately. Sharing your concerns with someone will rarely lead to a child being taken into care, but could help them spot a problem sooner and take action to help the child and the family concerned.
"Another common misconception is that child abuse doesn't happen in some neighbourhoods. Child abuse and neglect can happen anywhere and we all have a role to play in protecting children and young people."
Cllr Tony Arbour, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: "Keeping children safe is our top priority. Everyone has a role to play in helping to protect children. 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 identify 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 better to help children as early as possible so that action can be taken to help the child and support the family concerned."
To spot the signs of child abuse or neglect, look for the following changes, often referred to as the ABC signs:
- Appearance – such as frequent unexplained injuries, consistently poor hygiene, matted hair, unexplained gifts, or a parent regularly collecting a child from school when drunk.
- Behaviour – such as demanding or aggressive behaviour, frequent lateness or absence from school, avoiding their own family, misusing drugs or alcohol, or being constantly tired.
- Communication – such as sexual or aggressive language, self-harming, becoming secretive and reluctant to share information or being overly obedient.
If you're worried about a child you can call Richmond Council's Single Point of Access team on 020 8891 7969 from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, or 020 8770 5000 for out-of-hours calls. If there are concerns about a child's immediate safety, contact the police by dialling 999.
Contact Amy Burns, Communications Officer at Richmond CCG, on 020 8734 3016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org