According to research, commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE), 49 per cent of adults in the South East are put off from reporting abuse or neglect of a child because they think they might be wrong.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting children (anyone under 18) from abuse and neglect and, to raise awareness of this, Hampshire County Council is supporting the DfE’s ‘Together we can tackle child abuse’ campaign.
Councillor Keith Mans, Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “The DfE’s findings are concerning – particularly that a third of people who suspect child abuse do nothing. I hope this campaign will help to convince people that we all have a role to play in protecting children and young people from abuse and neglect. I hope too, that it will help to reassure people that they don’t have to be absolutely certain about their suspicions before they talk to someone.”
He continued: “I would urge anyone In Hampshire who even has the slightest feeling of doubt about a child’s welfare to talk to us. Information is usually gathered from many sources and a report from a member of the public could form one part of a bigger picture.”
The research also found that 18 per cent of people in the South East (15 per cent nationally) have suspected a child has been or is suffering child abuse or neglect and 39% say they would find reporting child abuse or neglect more challenging than reporting the crime of a family member.
Councillor Mans commented: “It is a myth to believe that a child will be removed immediately from his or her family. Very often, social care involves working with families so they are able to take better care of their children. People should also not worry that it will be public knowledge that they have made a report. Our social care teams are highly skilled and absolutely clear about the sensitivities of reporting. People would be able to discuss keeping their details private and confidential, if they are concerned.”
Children and young people find it extremely difficult to ask for help from anyone if they are being abused. Often they have no-one to turn to that they can trust, they may have developmental difficulties or fears and worries that are manipulated by an abuser.
Nationally, in 2014/15, over 400,000 children in England were supported because someone noticed that they needed help.
During the last year in Hampshire, the County Council received 107,000 contacts from professionals, families and the public, most of which were supported through advice and the offer of further information on the services available. Of the rest, 13.3% (14, 275) needed a formal assessment by social work staff to agree further support and intervention.
In Hampshire, anyone that has a concern that someone under the age of 18 may be neglected or is being abused, should call Children’s Services on 0300 555 1384. However, if someone believes that a child or young person is in immediate danger they should contact the Police on the emergency 999 number.
More information can be found online at www.gov.uk/reportchildabuse or http://www.hants.gov.uk/child-protection