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Myth busting about reporting a concern


Myth: Reporting a child/family to the ‘social services’ means the child will be removed from their family immediately by social workers

Fact: Social workers protect vulnerable children and provide support to families in need of assistance. Sharing your concerns with a local authority will not automatically mean a child is taken into care, but could mean the authorities spot a problem sooner and can take action to help the child and the family concerned. Ultimately the decision for removing a child from their family rests with the courts.


Myth: It’s only child abuse if there’s physical or sexual violence

Fact: In 2014-15, over three quarters of the children on child protection plans were as a result of neglect or emotional abuse. Of the remaining children, 10% for physical abuse, and 5% for sexual abuse. Many children and young people are likely to experience more than one type of abuse. Specifically, emotional abuse includes bullying, making a child feel worthless or unloved, inadequate, deliberately silencing them or frequently causing a child to feel frightened or in danger.

Neglect covers the ongoing persistent failure to meet a child’s basic needs. It may include failing to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, or medical treatment. Neglect includes failure to protect a child from harm or danger and failing to ensure proper care or supervision.


Myth: People will know it is me that reported and my call will not remain anonymous

Fact: You will be asked about your own details but as a member of the public, youcan choose to remain anonymous.


Myth: It’s not my job to report child abuse – that’s for teachers or professionals to handle

Fact: Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone in the community has an important role to play. An abused child wants the opportunity to be heard, but children need adults to spot the signs, notice if something is troubling them, and act on their concerns.


Myth: Child abuse doesn’t happen in my neighbourhood, I live in a good area

Fact: Whatever their background, age, gender, race or sexuality or wherever they live, any child or young person could be abused or neglected. Child abuse and neglect can occur anywhere.


Myth: It’s best to wait until you’re absolutely certain you have firm evidence before reporting child abuse

Fact: You don’t have to be absolutely certain about your suspicions; if you have a feeling that something’s not right, talk to your local children’s social care team who can look into it. A third of people who suspect child abuse, do nothing. A number of people do not act on their suspicions because they’re worried about being wrong.


Myth: If the child doesn’t tell someone about the abuse taking place it cannot be that serious

Fact: Research indicates that children and young people suffering abuse may make multiple attempts to tell someone. However, talking about this is a difficult subject. It may be more subtle than just coming out with it or showing a visual sign. While young people told a diverse range of people about their abuse; friends and mothers were by far the most common people who they spoke to first.


Myth: Children are just attention seeking when they act up, not being abused!

Fact: Changes in behaviour are one of the key signs that a child may be suffering from abuse or neglect.


Myth: Children have lots of adults they can turn to for help if they are being abused

Fact: There are a range of barriers that stop abused children and young people asking for help. The most common are:

  • having no one to turn to: absence of someone trusted to tell and feelings of isolation
  • fears and anxieties manipulated by the abuser
  • developmental barriers
  • emotional barriers and anxieties
  • no one listened and no one asked: lack of recognition of abuse by others
  • anxiety over the confidentiality of their information