It is reported by the NSPCC that more than 31,000 people contact them each year to report worries about children living in households with drug or alcohol problems, children seen wearing dirty clothes or appearing to have suffered injuries or abuse.
We would always urge the public to report information to us online if they notice something concerning. Simply by speaking out, you may save a child’s life.
Neglect can often be spotted in a child’s demeanour and appearance, from untreated coughs and skin infections, to poor hygiene and fatigue, or constant hunger. But, it’s important to note that many of these can also be due to families struggling with low income.
It’s quite normal for kids to occasionally get hurt in the course of play and exercise, but signs of physical abuse are usually quite distinct from everyday injuries such as scraped elbows, or knees, and often go hand in hand with other behaviours.
Child sexual abuse can result in a range of problems that can become very severe, from age-inappropriate behaviour, medical problems, through to depression and even self-harm.
Some common signs that may indicate a child is suffering abuse or neglect include:
Aggressive or repeated shouting
Hearing hitting or things being broken
Children crying for long periods of time
Very young children left alone or are outdoors by themselves
Children looking dirty or not changing their clothes
Children being withdrawn or anxious.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), more than 28,000 children each year in the UK are treated for accidental ingestion of items such as medicines, household products and cosmetics, and suspected poisoning is one of the most common reasons for young children to be taken to A&E departments.
Examples of the most common substances causing accidental poisonings seen at hospital include medications such as over the counter pain relief, or prescription medications, but there have also been incidents involving laundry capsules, plug-in air fresheners, reed diffusers and cleaning products such as bleach.
Keep medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard
Wherever possible, buy products in child resistant containers
Always store chemicals in their original containers
Dispose of unwanted medicines and chemicals safely
Avoid plants with poisonous leaves or berries, or those that can irritate the skin.
If you think a child has swallowed a harmful substance, please seek immediate medical assistance, and call 999.
What to do?
If you suspect a child is being neglected or abused, there is help at hand.
You can visit the NSPCC website for advice and guidance. It can be reached 24 hours a day by emailing [email protected],uk, or its team of experts can be reached on 0808 800 5000 from Monday to Friday between 8am to 10pm or at the weekends between 9am and 6pm.
ChildLine also has information on its website for any child or young person needing help and support. You can call 0800 1111, email, or chat online with a councillor.