West Berkshire Council

Child Protection: Recognising Abuse

Recognising and reporting child abuse

When should I report a concern about a child?

All adults share the responsibility to keep children safe. This page will help you to understand the many different signs that can indicate child abuse. If you think a child or young person is suffering harm, or is at risk of harm, you should report it.

Early help for children can break the cycle of abuse and improve the chances of good outcomes for the child and the family.


What happens if a report is made?

All Child Protection matters are taken seriously and we will carry out an inquiry under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989. We can only intervene if there is clear evidence that the child is in need of protection. We will usually tell parents/carers that we are making enquiries, and what our concerns are, and they will be asked for their views and opinions.

In these circumstances we may also carry out an assessment of the child's and their family's needs, and we will consider what help we could provide to support them in order to keep the child safe.

If the child protection enquiries progress there may be an opportunity for a Child Protection Conference to be held.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse takes different forms. It may be physical, emotional, sexual or neglect. These are explained in more detail in pdf icon Categories of Registration [204kb]. Bullying and domestic violence are also forms of abuse.

What are the signs of abuse?

There are many different ways in which a child's behaviour or circumstances might lead you to think that the child is experiencing some form of abuse. For example, a child may be suffering abuse if he or she:

  • has bruises or injuries that are unexplained
  • appears afraid of parents or carers
  • mentions being left alone in unsafe situations
  • is growing up in a home where there is domestic violence
  • displays sexual behaviour or knowledge that is unusual for their age
  • is dirty, hungry or poorly dressed
  • is self-harming
  • suddenly has money or expensive gifts.

You can find a more complete guide to signs of abuse in the NSPCC (2014) Recognising signs of abuse at different stages of a child's development.

Working together to safeguard children

Section 13 of the Children Act 2004 requires each local authority to establish a Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) for their area. West Berkshire LSCB is made up of organisations which work with children and young people. The LSCB is the key mechanism for agreeing how local services and professionals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The LSCB website offers information for both professionals and families and explains the child protection procedures in West Berkshire.