Help with serious concerns about children

ParentLine can help where there are concerns about the safety of a child. If you call us to raise a concern we will listen carefully, and talk through with you what has happened, so that we can clarify the situation. We will then recommend action that we think you could, or should, take.

We don't pass information to anyone unless you agree, except where a child or vulnerable adult is at risk of significant harm. If we think that's the case, we will pass on all details to the police or social work department straight away to make sure they are safe. This may include any contact information you have shared with us.

We also provide web-chat during opening hours. Click the button to start:

 

Visit the topics below for information about serious concerns that ParentLine can assist with. As everyone has a part to play in looking out for children, read our guide to protecting children.

Sexual abuse can take the form of touching, where another person either touches the child’s genitals for sexual pleasure or makes or encourages the child touch their genitals.
It can also include non-touching activity, like showing pornographic images to a child, photographing a child in sexual poses, inappropriately watching a child undress or use the bathroom, or where the other person deliberately exposes their own genitals to the child.
There’s also an increasing problem with people making and downloading sexual images on the internet, on their mobiles and so on.

Possible signs that a child is being sexually abused include them acting out sexual behaviour when they are playing with their toys; undergoing personality changes like becoming withdrawn, angry, clingy or seeming insecure; developing sleeping problems or regressive behaviours like bed-wetting; having unreasonable fears about places or people. There may also be physical signs such as unexplained soreness or bruising.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, you should contact the police on 999 straight away. However, it can be very difficult to know what to do if you are unsure, especially if you are not certain that a child is being sexually abused. ParentLine call-takers can help talk through your concerns and decide on an appropriate course of action to ensure the child you are worried about stays safe.

Physical abuse of a child often results in non-accidental injuries such as bruises, cuts, burns and broken bones as a consequence of being deliberately harmed by another person. This can include acts such as slapping, kicking and sustained shaking, but can also be a result of being intentionally harmed by being given toxic or poisonous substances.
Bumps and bruising don’t necessarily mean a child is being physically abused, however there are other indicators to look out for, such as how frequently this happens, whether there a pattern to the injuries and how likely the explanation of how the child was hurt seems.

Possible signs that a child is being physically abused include them undergoing personality changes like becoming withdrawn, angry, clingy or seeming insecure; developing sleeping problems or regressive behaviours like bed-wetting; and having unreasonable fears about places or people.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, you should contact the police on 999 straight away. However, it can be very difficult to know what to do if you are unsure, especially if you are not certain that a child is being physically abused. ParentLine call-takers can help talk through your concerns and decide on an appropriate course of action to ensure the child you are worried about stays safe.

A child is considered to be neglected when there is an on-going failure to meet their basic emotional and physical needs. This can mean they are left cold, hungry or dirty or don’t get the love and care they need. A child can also be subject to neglect if they aren’t attending school or taken to the doctor or dentist when they need medical help.

Possible signs that a child is neglected can be different depending on how old they are, but can include them looking dirty or unhealthy, or they may seem less physically or emotionally developed than other children their age. Other things to consider might be the environment they live in – is it warm and safe, are they often left alone or are they expected to do things like cooking and cleaning that an adult would normally do.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, you should contact the police on 999 straight away. However, it can be very difficult to know what to do if you are unsure, especially if you are not certain that a child is being neglected. ParentLine call-takers can help talk through your concerns and decide on an appropriate course of action to ensure the child you are worried about stays safe.

Domestic abuse can involve controlling, degrading and threatening behaviour as well as sexual and physical violence. It is usually carried out by a partner or ex-partner, with women much more likely to experience it than men.

Whilst anyone can have disagreements and arguments with their partner, indications of an abusive relationship can include when a person regularly stops their partner from seeing friends and family, makes it hard for them or stops them from going to work or college, or is constantly checking up, criticising or belittling them.

Children exposed to these behaviours are also severely affected by it - it is considered to be another form of child abuse. They can be hurt when trying to prevent it, but even if they don’t see or hear it, they will often be traumatised by their parent’s injuries or distress afterwards.

If you think a parent or child are in immediate danger, you should contact the police on 999 straight away. However, it can be very difficult to know what to do if you are unsure, especially if you are not certain that the parent is being subjected to domestic abuse or that the child is witnessing it. ParentLine call-takers can help talk through your concerns and decide on an appropriate course of action to ensure the parent and child you are worried about stays safe.