Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse is any action by another person – adult or child – that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about a lack of love, care and attention - which is neglect. We know that neglect, whatever form it takes, can be just as damaging to a child as physical abuse.

An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event. And it can increasingly happen online.

Children and young people may be abused in a family, institutional or community setting; by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger.

Types of Child Abuse

Physical abuse: may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child, including by fabricating the symptoms of, or deliberately causing, ill health.

Emotional abuse: persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person, age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children, causing children frequently to feel frightened, or the exploitation or corruption of children.

Sexual abuse: involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Neglect: persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development, such as failing to provide adequate food, shelter & clothing, or neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Support and Resources

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In an emergency
 

If someone is at immediate risk of significant harm, please call 999. Do not delay.

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Levels of Need Guidance

Use the Levels of Need guidance to help you identify and assess safeguarding needs - and access the right help at the right time. 

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Guidance for Practitioners

UK Government advice to help practitioners identify child abuse and neglect and take appropriate action in response

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Make a safeguarding referral for support

Call Lambeth's Integrated Referral Hub and follow up with a completed Multi-agency Referral Form.

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Resources for professionals

Visit the NSPCC for training and resources to help you protect children from abuse and neglect.

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Confidential Crime Reporting & Info

Fearless.org provides young people with a safe and confidential space to report crime and seek advice.

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Access Early Help in your area

There are five Community Early Help locality teams in Lambeth. Contact your local Early Help Team.

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Support for people abused in childhood

NAPAC Offers support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect.