Bedfordshire Police urge the public to report abuse concerns this National Children’s Day Image By Rawf8 AdobeStock_171057614

Several different ways in which child abuse can occur

Today (17 May 2020) is National Children’s Day in the UK. The Public Protection Unit at Bedfordshire Police is taking this opportunity to further encourage people to report any concerns or worries they have about the welfare of a child.

There are several different ways in which child abuse can occur:

  • Physical abuse occurs when someone is deliberately hurting a child to cause injuries, such as broken bones, bruises, burns or cuts
  • Sexual abuse happens when a child is forced into or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn’t have to be a physical act and can happen online
  • Emotional abuse can cause serious psychological harm if a child feels that they are being deliberately ignored, humiliated, intimidated or isolated
  • Neglect is one of the most common forms of child abuse and happens when a parent, guardian or carer fails to meet a child’s basic needs

Detective Superintendent Zara Brown, head of the Public Protection Unit at Bedfordshire Police, said:

“We are continuing to tackle cases of child abuse and we are working with our partners to protect those who are deemed as vulnerable, but we need your support in helping us identify any children who could be at risk of harm.

“Safeguarding is everyone’s business and we can only act if we have information. With the majority of children currently not at school, the people who would normally be alerted to any signs of abuse are no longer interacting with them in person, so now, more than ever, we need you to be our eyes and ears and please report anything that doesn’t seem right.

“Your actions could protect a child from harm, or even save a life.”

Some of the most common signs to look and listen out for

Abuse can often be difficult to identify, especially at the moment when many families are isolating, and children aren’t being seen by as many adults as they usually would, such as teachers or grandparents.

According to the NSPCC, some of the most common signs to look and listen out for include:

  • Children looking dirty or not changing their clothes
  • Children being withdrawn or anxious
  • Aggressive or repeated shouting, or hearing hitting or things being broken
  • Children crying for long periods of time
  • Very young children left alone or are outdoors by themselves
  • Noticing a poor bond or relationship between a parent and child
  • A child repeatedly running away or going missing

To report a concern, you can call Bedfordshire Police on 101 or use its online reporting tool.

You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Please also visit the NSPCC website for advice and guidance, or you can call 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org,uk.

ChildLine also has a lot of information on its website for any child or young person who is struggling with issues at home. You can call 0800 1111, email or chat online with a counsellor.