Child Abuse | Norfolk Constabulary

You are here

Child Abuse

There are many forms of abuse against children, all of which can have long term effects on the wellbeing of a child.

The four main types of abuse are:

  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • neglect.

We are committed to keeping children safe. Our staff and officers will look at every opportunity to protect children who are at risk. We work closely with our partners to investigate all levels of child abuse and make sure all children are safe from harm. 

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be being abused please tell someone.
If you think a child is in immediate danger contact us straight away by calling 999.

Please see below for signs and symptoms of these forms of abuse.

Disclaimer: If you don’t want someone to see that you’re viewing this website, you can click on the ‘exit’ button on the right, which will take you away from this page to the BBC news website. 

Please be aware that the time it will take to load the BBC website will depend on your connectivity speed and device performance. It may be better to keep another document or website open in a new tab or window while browsing. If someone comes in the room and you don’t want them to see what you’re looking at, you can quickly switch views.

 

Guidance for children

If you or a friend is at risk of harm, or you are suffering any form of abuse, then it’s important you know that help is available. It can be a very difficult decision to tell someone so it’s important you get the right advice when you do. 

  • Always dial 999 in an emergency or call our non-emergency number 101.
  • Go to your local police station and tell someone what has happened. They will take an initial report and forward this on to one of our specially trained officers.
  • Talk to someone you trust. This might be a friend, a teacher or another adult.
  • Contact ChildLine for free. You can talk about any problem and there will always be someone there to help you sort it out. You can speak to them on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk

Guidance for professionals

As a professional if you have any concerns for the safety and welfare of a child, it’s important you understand what your responsibilities are.
You should consider the following:

  • Seek advice from your safeguarding lead.
  • In an emergency dial 999, otherwise call our non-emergency number 101.
  • Contact Police and/or Children’s Services through the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). You can contact them on 0344 800 8020 or by emailing [email protected]

If a child tells you something, you should:

  • Listen and not interrupt.
  • Try not to appear shocked or surprised by what they say – they might think you can’t handle what they have to say and stop, or that what they are telling you is ‘naughty.’
  • Make a written note of what they said as accurately and as soon as possible.
  • Maintain confidentiality but don’t promise you won’t tell anyone, as you may need to tell someone in order to protect them.
  • If you are unsure what to do contact the MASH for advice. Do not contact the person suspected of causing harm to the child until you have been advised if this is suitable or not.

How to report abuse

  • Dial 999 in an emergency.
  • If the matter is not an emergency, call 101 or visit your local police station to tell someone what has happened. They will take an initial report and forward this onto our Child Abuse Investigation Team.
  • If you’re a child, talk to someone you trust. This might be a friend, a teacher or another adult. For more information read our guidance for children below.
  • Contact your local Children’s Services team and ask to speak with the duty Social Worker Telephone 0344 800 8020.
  • If you are a professional, it’s important you know your responsibility to refer your concerns to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). They are likely to ask you to send a referral form after which they can discuss with you the best way forward. For more information read our guidance for professionals below or visit Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

Neglect

Neglect is when a child or young person is not being properly looked after. This could damage their health or wellbeing. These very basic needs include:

  • safety at home (including not being left at home alone)
  • proper shelter / clothing / cleanliness
  • any necessary medical treatment including dental care
  • protection from physical and emotional harm or danger - this includes protecting them from someone else who may be abusing them.

Signs and symptoms of neglect might be:

  • constant hunger or tiredness
  • poor personal hygiene
  • poor state of clothing
  • untreated medical problems
  • no social relationships

These are only a few signs and symptoms for abuse. Some, all, or none of these may be apparent. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be being abused please tell someone.
 

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse happens in many different ways. It can affect how a young person or child feels about themselves, how they feel they fit in, with friends, at school, or where they live. Examples can be:

  • being made to feel inadequate, wrong or unhappy
  • being unfairly blamed
  • being bullied
  • being made to feel frightened or in danger
  • seeing or hearing someone from home being hurt by another member of the family (domestic violence).

Signs and symptoms of emotional abuse might be:

  • physical, mental and emotional development lags
  • continual lack of self-worth ('I'm stupid, ugly, worthless, etc')
  • inappropriate response to pain ('I deserve this')
  • neurotic behaviour (rocking, hair twisting, self-mutilation).

These are only a few signs and symptoms for abuse. Some, all, or none of these may be apparent. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be being abused please tell someone.

Sexual abuse

Sexual Abuse is when someone is told, asked or forced to take part in sexual activities.

 There are many different ways in which a young person can be sexually abused, including:

  • Making them do sexual things either to themselves or with other people.
  • Involving them in the making of films, videos or DVDs or taking photos and videos on mobile phones that involve sexual activity.
  • Making them watch sexual behaviour.

Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse might be:

  • Extreme reactions such as depression, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, running away, overdoses, anorexia.
  • Personality changes such as becoming insecure or clingy.
  • Being isolated or withdrawn.
  • Medical problems such as chronic itching, pain in the genitals, venereal diseases.
  • Sexualised behaviour.

These are only a few signs and symptoms for abuse. Some, all, or none of these may be apparent. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be being abused please tell someone.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is when someone hurts a child or young person on purpose. This can include:

  • hitting
  • shaking
  • making a child ill
  • using an implement such as a belt, stick, wire etc to discipline.

Please tell someone if you have any concerns. Signs and symptoms of physical abuse might be:

  • unexplained recurrent injuries / marks / burns
  • wearing clothes to cover injuries, even in hot weather
  • fear of physical contact - shrinking back if touched.

These are only a few signs and symptoms for abuse. Some, all, or none of these may be apparent. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be being abused please tell someone.