Are you worried about a child?


Phone 0208 303 7777 at any time if you are worried there is a risk of significant harm to a child or young person.

Out of hours you will be connected to the Bexley Emergency Duty Service.

In an emergency call 999

It can sometimes be difficult to know what to do for the best. If you find out a child is being harmed, you may be thinking that perhaps the child is really alright. You don’t want to provoke someone and make matters worse for the child. Perhaps you’re concerned the family might be broken up and the children put in care (although this actually rarely happens). You may think the problem will resolve itself. And you may not know where to go for help. It may seem the easiest thing to do is to do nothing. But please don’t. Trust your own judgement. It is important that you act.

If you are worried that a child or young person is at risk of abuse or neglect, please contact Children’s Social Care straight away.

Forms to make a referral to Children's Social Care or the Family Well-Being Service are available here: Family Wellbeing Service and how to contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

The Government produces an advice leaflet:

What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused (March 2015)

What will happen if I contact Children’s Social Care?

You should always report your concerns, even if the person you suspect is abusing or neglecting a child is your partner, a member of your own family or someone you know well.

Abuse can take different forms. Common types are:

  • Neglect – the persistent lack of essential care for a child including enough love, stimulation, safety, food, clothing, shelter, medical care or education. It can also mean leaving a child alone and at risk.
  • Emotional abuse – can mean repeatedly rejecting a child, constantly threatening or putting a child or young person down so that they feel unloved and worthless.
  • Physical abuse – including hitting, punching, burning, poisoning, attempted drowning and smothering.
  • Sexual abuse – forcing or persuading a child or young person to take part in any kind of sexual activity. It can include inappropriate touching, kissing or sexual intercourse. It can also involve causing a child to look at, or being involved in pornographic material or videos.

A child may experience more than one type of abuse or neglect.

The council has a legal duty to look into a child’s circumstances when somebody suspects abuse or neglect is occurring. A social worker usually does this job. The social worker will need you to give them relevant information so they can plan the best way of checking the child is safe and, if necessary, draw up plans for further action.

Will the child’s parent be told who contacted a social worker?

You don’t have to give your name. It does, however, make it easier for everyone involved if you give us your contact details so we can get back to you for more information. We will tell the parent or carer if the person concerned about a child is a professional person, like a doctor or a teacher.

What happens next?

A social worker will go and talk to the parent or carer to find out if the information you gave us is true, and whether the family needs any help or support. They will also want to see the child and talk to the child alone (if they are old enough to understand). If the social worker thinks the child is at risk they will discuss with the parents what will need to happen to make them safe. If the social worker decides that the child is at risk of abuse or neglect, they will organise a Child Protection Conference to draw up a plan of how to protect the child. The plan will involve the professionals who know the child, the child’s parents, and often their immediate family.

Our aim is to keep families together and we nearly always succeed in doing this. A very small number of children each year need to be separated from their parents to ensure they are kept safe. Usually these children return home once their care and safety can be guaranteed.

Will the police and other agencies be involved?

If a crime has been committed against a child, the police will also be involved. They will work with the social worker so together they can decide the best way to keep the child safe from harm. Children’s Social Care staff work closely with other agencies that work with children and their families. We believe it is very important to work together to protect children from harm and all these partner agencies work to the same procedures and guidelines, and keep in close contact.

Will I be told what happens to the child and family?

It is very unlikely that you will be given any information about the action taken and what happens to the child and their family. It is important to respect everyone’s right to privacy. However, the social worker will reassure you that your comments have been taken seriously and that action will be taken.