What is abuse?

No one has the right to hurt you, whether it is members of your family, acquaintances, strangers or people your own age (also see bullying). You have a right to be cared for in a way that does not harm you physically or emotionally. It does not matter if you are living with your parents, are in further education, a member of the armed forces, in hospital, prison or a young offenders institution.

Child abuse is when anyone under 18 is being harmed or isn't being looked after properly. Sometimes a young person can be abused by a stranger or by another young person, but usually they know the person who is hurting them or making them do things that they should not. They can be abused anywhere; at home, at school, a local sport centre or after school club. Sometimes someone else knows what is happening, but they don't stop it. This is wrong too! 

There are different types of abuse: 

What to do if you're worried

You should talk to someone, for example an adult who you trust and you know will try to help you. Who you talk to will depend on what you are worried about and who the adult or other child is who is causing your worries. You can talk to:

  • Your parent/s or carer
  • A relative
  • A neighbour or friend
  • A professional such as a teacher, school nurse, doctor, youth worker, health visitor, social worker, police officer or anyone else you trust
  • Or call Childline on 0800 1111 (you do not have to give them your name, or tell them anything that makes you uncomfortable).
  • You can also contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 for children and young people. They also have a website www.nspcc.org.uk/kidszone. You do not have to give them your name, unless you want to.
  • Another helpful websites with helpful advice about what to do if you are worried or scared is worriedneed2talk.org.uk.
  • There4me.com is a website that covers issues like abuse, bullying, exams, drugs and self-harm. It there's something bad that's happening and you want to know what to do, you can contact people who can help thought the website and no one else has to know.
  • In an emergency call the Police on telephone number 999.
It can sometimes be hard to tell someone else how you feel. You might feel embarrassed or worried about the person's reaction or what might happen next. Although it might be difficult, it is important to talk to someone. If the person you speak to does not take you seriously, speak to someone else. Many myths exist, so for the record:
  • Parents are responsible for their children's safety.
  • Children's Social Care (previously Children's Specialist Services) become involved once a concern is shared.
  • Decisions about abuse need careful assessment.
  • Children are best cared for by their own families.
  • Professionals want to work in partnership with families.
  • Very few children are removed from home following abuse.

Whoever you speak to should listen and decide the best way to help. Children's Social Care will probably need to share what you have said with someone else who has more experience of keeping children safe. It may take time to involve the necessary people and to decide the best action to take. You should be involved in any decisions as much as possible and told what will happen next.

Children's Social Care need to find out what happened and why. The most important thing to remember is that you've done nothing wrong. You're not in any kind of trouble. They want to see if you need our help.

When they've spoken to all the people they need to speak to, a decision will be made as to what should happen. It may be that nothing needs to happen. Or they may give your family some help and advice. Sometimes they need to call a meeting called a Child Protection Conference to make sure that the right people are ready to protect you and that the help is properly organised.

To speak to a social worker call 020 8871 6622. Outside of normal office hours (after 5pm weekdays or on weekends) call 020 8871 6000.



Information on What is abuse?