If you are worried about a child

Worried about a child?

Children and Young People have a right to be safe and protected from harm.  We all have a responsibility to make sure that all our children live safely.  Families, neighbours, professionals and members of communities play a vital role in protecting children. 

If you are concerned that a child might be at risk of harm please share your concern by contacting one of the following:

  • Children and families social services: daytime 01546 605517 or evenings and weekends 01631 566 491  or 01631 569712 or use our online enquiry form
  • Police Scotland at any police office or by calling 101
  • If you think a child is in immediate danger call Police on 999

Supporting a child

We know it can very difficult for children to tell anyone they are being harmed. Research into children’s experiences of disclosing abuse tells us that a positive response to a disclosure has the following 3 key features:

  • They felt believed
  • Some action was taken to protect them (such as reporting to someone who could help)
  • They received some kind of emotional support

If a child tells you they have been abused, let them know that you are taking them seriously, praise them for telling you and make sure they understand it is not their fault. You can talk with the child about what needs to happen next.

What happens if you report abuse?

If you call your local social work office or the police, you don't have to give your name. However, you will be encouraged to, in case they need more information to help the child later on. The most important thing in any investigation will be about the safety of the child.

Your call will be taken seriously. Further information will be gathered to help make decisions about what to do next which might be:

  • Take no further action
  • Offer the family support
  • Put the child and family in touch with another agency for support
  • Start to investigate if the child is not safe

What will happen to the child?

Many people are unsure about reporting suspected child abuse because of concerns such as the abuser will be sent to prison or the child taken away from home. This is not always what happens. The priority will be to stop the abuse and where possible keep the family together. In some situations where a child is not safe, they might be looked after by a relative or the local authority. Most of these children return home as soon as it is felt they will be safe.

Worried about someone aged 16 or over?

Adults (including young adults aged 16 or over) who are being harmed physically, financially, psychologically, sexually or who are at risk of neglect (including self-harm) should also be protected.

Our Adult Protection website has more information on recognising and reporting adults at risk of harm.

Useful information leaflets

Children Home Alone - advice for parents on risk and difficult decisions - Child Protection Committee leaflet for you to download

Is someone you care about misusing drugs? - Scottish Families Affected by Drugs leaflet

Information for families Living in Scotland (pdf)

Information for Parents and Carers whose children are involved in child protection investigations - Child Protection Committee leaflet to download

The Young Parent Survival Guide offers good information for young mums and dads

Talk PANTS and help keep your child safe from abuse NSPCC Underwear Rule is a simple way that parents can help keep children safe from abuse.

Children Alone at Home - Argyll & Bute CPC Publications for Parents