Advice for parents and carers
What is child abuse?
Children have a right to grow up safe from harm. It is not acceptable for anyone to treat a child in a way that makes him or her unhappy and will affect how they grow up.
Behaviour that harms children
Below are examples of behaviour that is harmful to children
- Hitting a child, especially if the hitting is frequent, with an object such as a belt, which breaks the skin or causes bruising, to the head or body
- Neglecting a child's needs for basic day-to-day care such as food, clothing or care when they are ill and being watched over
- Sexual abuse, which includes allowing a child to see pornography
- Causing a child to feel unnecessarily upset or frightened a lot of the time by constantly putting them down, fighting in front of them or asking them to keep a secret
If you think a child you know may be coming to harm you should always do something. If a child is in immediate danger or left alone you should contact the police on 999.
If you are concerned about any child you should let social services know by contacting the referral and assessment team during office hours, or calling 020 7525 5000 at evenings and weekends. They will keep your personal details private if requested.
Find out more about child abuse on the NSPCC website.
We're here to help
Many people worry that if they contact social services about a child, the child will be taken into care, but this rarely happens.
Social workers do not have the right to remove children from home. Only a court or a senior police officer can order this and they will only do so if there is a real danger of serious harm to the child.
In most cases social services will want to speak to the child, their carers and other professionals who know the child, such as their teacher or health visitor. If there is a problem they will try to work with the family to improve things.
If you need help and advice with parenting
We know that most parents and carers want the best for the children they are bringing up. We also know that most parents and carers struggle at some point in their children's lives.
If you are finding it a struggle to look after children it is important to ask for help. Talk to your health visitor or a social worker.
The children's services pages give information about health and social care services provided for children and young people. You can also look at help available around child protection from education services. Information about children's services in Southwark can be found on the children and young people's directory.
Other useful websites
- Childline 24-hour free helpline for children 0800 1111
- Parentline information and a listening ear to anyone in a parenting role
- Sure Start bringing together early education, childcare, health and family support
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) focus on safeguarding children