We can all play a part in protecting children from child abuse

It’s a sad fact that at Cambridgeshire Constabulary we have investigated 625 cases of child abuse across the county between January 1 and November 30 this year.

Protecting children from harm , keeping them safe and investigating child abuse crimes in all forms is and will always be a priority for us.

We have a dedicated team called the Child Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit (CAISU) who take a child-centred approach to ensure the welfare and well-being of the child is core to every investigation.

We also work closely with our partner agencies in social care, education and health to manage the safety of children and investigate criminal offences.

Child abuse comes in various forms and can affect anyone. The consequences can be life-changing for the victim and those around them.

Here’s a bit more information about the four main types; emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Emotional abuse is the second most common reason for children needing protection from abuse but one of perhaps the least spoken about. It’s psychological abuse which can damage a child’s emotional health and well-being. Deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child or isolating or ignoring them is an example.

Signs to look out for in a child’s behaviour include being overly affectionate towards strangers, lacking confidence or being aggressive or nasty to other children.

Others might struggle to control their emotions, seem isolated from their parents or carers, lack social skills or have few friends.

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse and can have a debilitating and long-lasting effect on a child’s physical well-being and on their mental, emotional and behavioural development.

It’s defined as not meeting a child’s basic needs including adequate healthcare, supervision, clothing, nutrition, housing as well as their physical, emotional, social, educational and safety needs. It can be anything from leave a child at home alone to the very worst case where a child dies from malnutrition.

Multiple or persistent signs of poor appearance and hygiene, health and development problems and housing a family issues could indicate a serious problem.

Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts a child. Children who are physically abused suffer violence such as being hit, kicked, poisoned, burned, slapped or have objects thrown at them.

All children have bumps, scrapes and falls but if a child often has injuries, there seems to be a pattern, or the explanation doesn’t match the injury then it needs to be investigated.

If you think a child is in danger, call police straight away on 999.

Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is forced or enticed to take part in sexual activities. It’s important to know that it doesn’t have to be physical, it can happen online.

One in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused and more than 90 per cent of children sexually abused knew their offender.

Children might stay away from certain people or seem frightened if they are being sexually abused. They may also show sexual behaviour that’s inappropriate for their age and have physical symptoms.

You have a key role to playpcso-no-words

It’s often difficult for children and young people to tell someone about their abuse, particularly if they are being manipulated by their abuser or if they don’t think they’ll be believed. They might show it in other behavioural ways.

Each and every one of us can help prevent further abuse of an individual by reporting child abuse.

Sharing your concerns doesn’t mean a child will be automatically taken into care. Your concerns will be carefully listened to, information gathered and then an assessment of the immediate risk will be carried out to decide the appropriate action.

You don’t have to be absolutely certain about your suspicions. If you feel something isn’t right you can talk to us on 101, the NSPCC, Childline or your local authority. If you feel a child’s life is in immediate danger please call 999 straight away.

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