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Protecting your child and family

All the professionals involved in the care of your family, including midwives and health visiting teams, have a responsibility to protect children and keep them safe from harm or exploitation. This is known as safeguarding.

Health professionals are trained to recognise when a child is at risk, and have a responsibility to work with other agencies, including social care, to respond to identified concerns. If they do have concerns, a referral to social care or early help services will ensure that you and your family get access to the right support at the right time, preventing the concerns from getting worse. The safety of the child is of paramount importance.

Wherever possible, health professionals seek your consent before a referral is made and will be open and honest with your family. However, in certain circumstances, this may not be possible.

Safeguarding means:

  • protecting children from abuse and maltreatment
  • preventing harm to children’s health or development
  • ensuring children grow up with safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes

Safeguarding children and child protection guidance and legislation applies to all children up to the age of 18.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse is any action by another person that causes significant harm to a child. Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological or emotional, but can be about a lack of love, care and attention which indicates neglect.

Neglect also includes not attending medical appointments. Physical abuse has been linked to aggressive behaviour in children, emotional and behavioural problems and educational difficulties.

Living in a house where there is domestic violence or witnessing it is an abusive situation for children. It is important to note that differing cultural practices are not a defence for physical abuse.

Click here to read more about support services for domestic abuse victims.

Useful links

  • NSPCC– Safeguarding children and child protection
  • NSPCC helpline- 0808 800 5000 or if you are worried about a child
  • Parent leaflet explaining what happens next if a baby has a bruise, skin discolouration or mark

Page last reviewed: 26-06-2023

Next review due: 26-06-2026