Spotting the signs of child abuse

hands with wordsI’m a Detective Constable working in the Child Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit.

My day to day work is all around investigating cases of neglect and the physical or sexual abuse of children in Cambridgeshire.

These can be cases that are happening now or those that happened in the past where the victim has only just made the decision to report it.

Sometimes it’s not until someone becomes an adult that they realise things that happened to them as a child were abuse.

The role can be rewarding when I’ve been able to keep a young person safe and make a genuine difference to their lives.

It can be very hard though having to visit homes where children are being mistreated or neglected. No-one wants to think of children being harmed in this way let alone see it first-hand but at least I am in a position to do something about it.

My specialist training means that I am able to interview children as young as three about the things they might have gone through.

I work closely with other local agencies including health authorities and children and social care to share information and create protection plans for children where necessary.

It can be difficult for people to spot the things that go on behind closed doors and most of the time people don’t want to interfere or make a fuss.

The sorts of things that might point to child abuse would be a change in the child’s behaviour for example if they become withdrawn. Also physical signs such as persistent uncleanliness, bruises and marks.

It is important that people don’t ignore their instincts and do let us know when they think there may be a problem.

Much better for us to look into it and find nothing wrong than have a child suffer in silence. If you have concerns about a child please contact social services or police on 101.

If people don’t want to speak to the police in the first instance there are other support groups out there who can offer advice like ChildLine and the NSPCC.

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