Safeguarding children - information for parents and carers

This part of the website is for ‘parents’ and ‘carers’, including anyone with parental responsibility.

Parental Responsibility means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which a parent has by law in relation to a child. This diminishes as the child acquires sufficient understanding to make his or her own decisions.

A child’s mother always holds Parental Responsibility, as does the father if married to the mother. Parental responsibility can be acquired by Court Order, for example a Residence Order or Special Guardianship Order. As well as an unmarried father, a step parent or a parents civil partner can apply for a Parental Responsibility Order under section 4 of the Children Act 1989, children’s relatives, friends and neighbours who need information or advice.
The safety and welfare of children – or safeguarding – is everyone’s business. Safeguarding means protecting children from physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect. It also means helping children to grow up into confident, healthy and happy adults.

Most children generally enjoy happy childhood experiences within their own family. Unfortunately for some, this is not the case. During difficult family times, everyone who knows the child must do the best they can to keep them safe and protect them from future harm.
If you are suspicious or have any concerns that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. Significant Harm is any Physical, Sexual, or Emotional Abuse, Neglect, accident or injury that is sufficiently serious to adversely affect progress and enjoyment of life. Harm is defined as the ill treatment or impairment of health and development, including any form of mistreatment or abuse,

If you have concerns about the safety of welfare of a child, speak to someone immediately:

Worried about a child - report your concerns

Emergency: If a child is in immediate danger or left alone, you should contact the police or call an ambulance on 999.
You can report abuse and neglect by completing the form at the links below:
Telephone Onecall: 01670 536400 open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day
  • Alternatively call the NSPCC 24 hour child protection helpline on 0808 800 5000
Early Help Assessments

To make a referral to the Early Help Hubs please send your referral to :-   

For enquiries about completion or registrations of Early Help Assessments please contact: 01670 536400
Same people feel anxious about making a referral about a child to social workers. It is always best to get advice and be wrong than do nothing and allow a child to be harmed or further mistreated or abused.

Talking through your concerns can help clarify whether there is something to be worried about. Don't think 'what if I am wrong?' Think, 'what if I am right?'

All concerns are treated seriously and in confidence. Your name will not be given to anyone else without permission. 
Child abuse is any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm.

Being mistreated or abused (sometimes called ‘Significant Harm) Significant Harm is any Physical, Sexual, or Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Accident or Injury that is sufficiently serious to adversely affect progress and enjoyment of life.

Harm is defined as the ill treatment or impairment of health and development‘) is defined as Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Neglect or Emotional Abuse.

Cartoon fist
Physical Abuse
When an adult deliberately hurts a child, such as hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, drowning or suffocating.

Cartoon child alone in a house
Where a child is not being looked after properly, for example, not getting enough to eat or being left alone in dangerous situations.

Speech bubble showing punctuation
E.g. calling names, damaging property, stealing, spreading rumours, cyberbullying, hurting, getting people into trouble

An eye crying
Emotional Abuse
This would happen, for instance, when a child is all the time being unfairly blamed for everything, or told they are stupid and made to feel unhappy.

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Sexual Abuse
An example of sexual abuse would be where a child has been forced to take part in sexual activities or in the taking of abusive images or photos.

A cartoon house with a crack
Domestic Violence
When one adult in a family or relationship threatens, bullies or hurts another family member e.g. physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually or financially.
Useful top tips from Kidscape; a UK wide charity that provides resources to keep children safe from harm . These top tips are designed to help us talk with confidence with our children about keeping themselves safe when out in public.

A stranger is anyone that your child doesn’t know or doesn’t know very well. It’s both common and dangerous for your child to think that ‘strangers’ look scary or sinister, like villains in films or cartoons. In a recent survey the majority of children aged five to eight thought this.

Play a game with your child and ask them to draw a stranger, it will help you reinforce that a stranger can look like anyone. Tell your child that they won’t be able to tell if a stranger is nice or not, so all strangers should be treated in the same way. 
If your child is approached by a stranger, encourage them to raise the alarm by saying ‘NO’ ’to draw attention. They should not be scared to do this and be told that it is the right thing to do. For children aged three to four, be careful not to scare them too much but start with “there are bad people so it’s very important you never…”

All children should ask for help from other adults. Teach them to look out for people in uniforms such as police officers, or teachers and traffic wardens if they’re at the school gates. Teach your child this basic slogan, ‘DON’T GO, SAY NO’. 
As obvious as it seems, please stress to your child that they should NEVER talk to a stranger, NEVER accept gifts or sweets, and NEVER walk off or get into a car with one. This is important if your child is aged 5 to 8 as they are at their most vulnerable. This situation might arise if you are late collecting them from school for example, so agree a plan with your child that they know you will stick to if you are late. For example, teach them that you would only ever send a teacher from their school or a friend’s parent that they recognise to collect them if you aren’t able to. Give your child your home, work and mobile numbers so they can reach you at all times, especially if they’re aged around 9 to 11, as they will be spending more time on their own. 
Tell your child that even if they are not sure if someone is a stranger they should always behave in the same way and not take risks. Teach them stock phrases to help give them confidence. For example: A child, offered money or sweets, should respond, “No thank you. Please leave me alone”. It’s important children don't think that talking to a stranger is ok if they're with a friend. Teach them they should only talk to someone they don't know if you are there by their side.

One way you can prepare your child is by practice scenarios. Try playing a game called, 'What if?’ Discussing and thinking about what to do, is often more helpful than having the 'right' answers. Ask them what to do if a stranger approaches them to help reinforce the advice ‘DON’T GO, SAY NO’ By practising these strategies in a fun way, your child will be as equipped as possible should difficult situations arise. It's important to have this conversation regularly, especially with young children so make time every 3 to 4 months. Remember ‘DON’T GO, SAY NO’ 
Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Young people in Northumberland have helped to produce an information leaflet which busts some of the myths around so-called legal highs. To find out more click here
Don’t think you have to face it on your own. Sorted can offer information and advice if you’re worried about a child and think they may have a drug, alcohol or solvent related problem.

Balance have a 'What's the Harm?' campaign, to increase awareness amongst parents of the Chief Medical Officer's guidance that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. Research shows that parents and carers are the number one source of alcohol for children and many parents believe that providing children with alcohol can help them handle drink when they're older. However, evidence shows that introducing children to drink at a younger age risks giving our children a taste for alcohol, as well a\s causing damage to developing brains, liver, bones and hormones.
Please visit the campaign website to find out how best to have a conversation about alcohol with your child.
You can telephone the Sorted office on 01670 536400 and speak to a worker.
You may also find the following links and downloads useful:

Talk to Frank
Helpline: 0300 123 66 00
Offers free confidential drugs information and advice 24 hours a day
Action on Addiction
Helpline: 0845 126 4130
Provides help and information to families and individuals who are worried about alcohol or drug misuse problems.
Working solely in the field of drug and alcohol treatment, includes specialist services for young people and access to local projects.
Community for Recovery
Helpline: 01785 810762
Text: 07973 887693
Communities for Recovery has been set up by Re-Solv and Solve It, who are the two UK agencies that work to prevent solvent abuse (officially known as ‘volatile substance abuse or ‘VSA’) and support all those whose lives are affected by it. Solvent abuse is rarely talked about. It has a much lower profile than other, illicit drugs. As a result, those affected by if often feel lonely or isolated – but please don’t suffer alone. We hope that this website will bring people together to build a Community that helps and supports all its members on their individual journeys to recovery.
Helpline: 0300 888 3853 (9am-5pm Mon - Fri)
DrugFAM supports families affected by a loved one’s use of drugs or alcohol. Whilst we work with individual family members and carers rather than the user, we focus on ‘whole family recovery’ and our aim is a positive outcome for everyone including those misusing drugs or alcohol. We pride ourselves on being able to offer our families or carers a flexible range of support to meet their needs. We believe our approach has enormous benefits in terms of physical and emotional wellbeing for individuals as well as improving lives for troubled families.
Adfam National
National charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol and is a leading agency in substance related family work including database of local support groups that helps families hear about and talk to people who understand their situation.
Helpline: 0845 4500 215
Provides a range of services dedicated to meeting the health, welfare and legal needs of drugs users and those who live and work with them.
The drugs team provides help, advice, information, support and referral to people affected directly and indirectly by drug use.
Amy Winehouse Foundation
Resilience Programme for Schools
The Amy Winehouse Foundation works to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people. We also aim to support, inform and inspire vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to help them reach their full potential.
For local services and advice contact
Sorted Northumberland
Sadly, during the past three years, across the North East of England, there have been infant deaths attributed to parents co-sleeping with their babies and other causal factors (i.e. babies sleeping on the sofa, parental alcohol behaviours).

All of these infant deaths could probably have been prevented through ‘Safer Sleeping’. All local safeguarding children boards are actively campaigning to reach practitioners and parents about the potential risks of sleeping with babies. To increase awareness we are promoting the use of the lullaby trust leaflet on ‘safer sleeping’ to parents and professionals.

SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby where no cause is found. While SIDS is rare, it can still happen and there are steps parents can take to help reduce the chance of this tragedy occurring.
Although it is not yet known how to completely prevent Sudden Infant Deaths (sometimes called Cot Death), it is possible to significantly lower the chances of it happening by following this advice. You should try to follow the advice for all sleep periods where possible, not just at night.
  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep;
  • Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth;
  • Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months;
  • Breastfeed your baby, if you can;
  • Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition.
  • Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby;
  • Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink or take drugs or are extremely tired, if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth-weight;
  • Avoid letting your baby get too hot;
  • Don’t cover your baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding.
Exploitation (including sexual and criminal) is a horrific form of abuse that affects thousands of children and young people every year in the UK. It can happen to any young person from any background and affects boys and young men as well as girls and young women.

Many victims of child exploitation (including sexual and criminal) have been groomed by an abusing adult, who will befriend them and make them feel special by buying gifts or giving them lots of attention. Victims are targeted both in person and online.

Some young people may be more vulnerable to exploitation. In particular, those having difficulties at home, those truanting or excluded from school, those who regularly go missing from home or care, or those in care.
Children and young people who are victims of this form of sexual abuse often do not recognise they are being exploited. However, there are a number of signs that could indicate a child is being groomed for sexual exploitation and, as a parent or carer; you have an important role in recognising them and protecting children.
These signs include:
  • Going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • Regularly missing school or not taking part in education
  • Appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions
  • Associating with other young people involved in exploitation
  • Having older boyfriends and girlfriends
  • Suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • Mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour 
Discussing the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships with children and young people is really important in helping highlight potential risks to them.
There are also practical steps you can take, such as:
  • Stay alert to changes in behaviour or any physical signs of abuse, e.g. bruising
  • Be aware of new, unexplained gifts or possessions, e.g. mobile phones, and carefully monitor any instances of staying out late or not returning home
  • Exercise caution around older friends your child may have, or relationships with other young people where there appears to be a power imbalance
  • Make sure you understand the risks associated with your child being online and put measures in place to minimise them 

If you have concerns about a child speak to someone immediately.

Worried about a child - report your concerns.

Emergency: If a child is in immediate danger or left alone, you should contact the police or call an ambulance on 999.
You can report abuse and neglect by completing the form at the links below:
Telephone Onecall: 01670 536400 open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day
  • Alternatively call the NSPCC 24 hour child protection helpline on 0808 800 5000

Early Help Assessments

To make a referral to the Early Help Hubs please send your referral to:   

For enquiries about completion or registrations of Early Help Assessments please contact: 01670 536400
Please click here to view a map that provides the details of boundaries of the locality teams 
If you are a professional who works with children, you should first discuss your concern with your manager or designated professional. If there are still concerns you should contact the number above.

Further information

Basic awareness training for parents and carers
It is often hard to tell the difference between difficult teenage behaviour and the signs of sexual exploitation. The more information you have about the dangers and risks that children may face the better equipped you’ll be to keep them safe. Please note that NSCB does not endorse these sites and takes no responsibility for the contents therein. These links are given for information only.

Other Resources:
Download our CSE poster
County Lines leaflet for parents and carers
Sexual Abuse Online - how can I help my child? (NWG Network and Marie Collins Foundation)
Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE) guide
'Bullying won't stop unless you tell some who can help.'

"They stir things up so people don't want to be my friend. I'm depressed, annoyed, stressed and keep breaking down in tears. I feel like I'm about to fall apart" - boy aged 13

Bullies are very cunning and are expert at getting away with it.

We all know that bullying goes on in and out of school, and parents, carers, teachers and other professionals have a duty to take action is they suspect or discover that child(ren) are being bullied.
  • People calling you names
  • Making things up to get you into trouble
  • Hitting, pinching, biting, pushing and shoving
  • Taking things away from you
  • Damaging your belongings
  • Stealing your money
  • Taking your friends away from you
  • Cyberbullying
  • Spreading rumours
  • Threats and intimidation
  • Making silent or abusive phone calls
  • Bullies can also frighten you so that you don't want to go to school, so that you pretend to be ill to avoid them
Bullying can affect anyone at any point in their lives. It may be at school, at college, in the workplace or even at home.
Parents, carers, teachers and other professionals have a duty to take action if they suspect or discover that child(ren) are being bullied.
  • Bullying at School – The Law
  • Red Balloon – For children who have been bullied, this centre will provide education and support (Tel: 01223 357714)
  • Kidscape – Provides useful information to help you combat bullying and keep your children safe including a helpline, confidence-building courses, booklets and literature, child safety training and FAQs.
  • Bullying UK – Provides help and reliable information on a variety of bullying issues.
  • The Antibullying Network
  • Childline - - Here there is brilliant web information and a telephone helpline with advice for young people about tackling bullying and other issues
  • need2know - relationships - Good, clear advice and stories from young people about how they tackled bullying. Includes info on cyber-bullying. 
During the school holidays, and in particular in hot weather, increasing numbers of children put themselves at risk of drowning. On average 40-50 children drown per year in the UK. To keep your children safe, when they are in, on or beside water, make sure they always follow the Water Safety Code.

Also available to download: water safety for children and young people 
  • it is very cold
  • there may be hidden currents
  • it can be difficult to get out (steep slimy banks)
  • it can be deep
  • there may be hidden rubbish, e.g. shopping trolleys, broken glass
  • there are no lifeguards
  • it is difficult to estimate depth
  • it may be polluted and may make you ill
Water may look safe, but it can be dangerous. Learn to spot and keep away from dangers. They may be strong swimmers in a warm indoor pool, but that does not mean that they will be able to swim in cold water.
Special flags and notices may warn of danger. Know what the signs mean.
Teach your children the water safety signs and the flags they should look out for on the beach.
Children should always go with an adult, not by themselves.

An adult can point out dangers or help if somebody gets into trouble.
You may be able to help yourself and others if you know what to do in an emergency.
If you see someone in difficulty, tell somebody, preferably a Lifeguard if there is one nearby, or go to the nearest telephone, dial 999, ask for the Police at inland water sites and the Coastguard at the beach.

Find out about rescue methods.
A child protection enquiry has to be started if someone believes your child may be being harmed or is at risk of being harmed. The local council must by law make enquiries in these situations.

A social worker will talk to all professionals who know your child and family. This may include teachers, health visitors, doctors or any other professional involved with the family. If the concern is that your child has been abused or a crime has occurred then the police will also be involved.

A social worker will talk to you about what you believe to have happened and why there are concerns about your child. You will be asked your views on what has happened.

If your child is believed to have an injury or to have been sexually abused, the social worker and the police may want a medical examination to take place. This will help find out how your child was hurt and make sure they receive medical help.

If your child is old enough the social worker will want to talk to them to hear their views and feelings about what has happened, and if a crime is thought to have been committed the police may want to record the interview using a video.
The law says that those working with families must try to help children and their families stay together wherever possible. However, the law also says that children must be kept safe.

In most circumstances parents are helped to look after their child safely and the child remains at home. Occasionally the risk of a child being hurt is too great and it may be necessary to find somewhere else for the child to stay, if possible with another family member.

Alternatively, the person who may hurt the child could be asked to leave the family home. If a child cannot remain at home then it may be necessary to apply to court for an order to remove the child so that the child can go to a foster carer or a residential home. At this point you would be advised to contact a solicitor to advise you.

If a child is thought to be at risk but this can be managed by the child remaining at home a child protection conference may be called.
A child protection conference is a meeting to talk about a child who may have been harmed or is at risk of being harmed. This meeting could involve teachers, doctors, health visitors, school nurses, police, probation officers and social workers.

As parents/carers you would also be invited and supported to attend and if your child is old enough to understand the process they may also attend. If you have any speech or hearing difficulties or if you need an interpreter arrangements will be made to support you so that you can fully participate in the conference.

The chairperson will meet with you before the conference starts. They will talk to you about what will happen and answer any questions you might have.

At the meeting reports from professionals involved with your family will be read and discussed, and information will be shared about the concerns for your child. Professionals at the meeting will decide whether they believe your child is at risk of harm. You will be asked for your views and the views of your child, where old enough, will also be heard at the conference.

If it is decided that your child is at risk of harm the meeting will discuss how best your child can be protected and what can be done to support your child and your family. This will then become the child protection plan.
The purpose of a child protection plan is to ensure that everyone is clear what help and support will be provided, by whom and when.

This will include expectations of you as parent/carers to work with the professionals, participate in the plan, and make any changes and improvements so that your child is safe and well cared for. Your child's health, development and general welfare will be regularly checked.

The plan will be reviewed after three months and then at six monthly intervals. The child protection plan will remain in place until it is believed that your child is no longer at risk of harm.

If you feel the child protection enquiry or the child protection conference was not conducted fairly there is a complaints procedure. Your social worker will be able to provide you with further information if required.
Information for parents and carers about online safety.

The internet offers children access to information, communication with their friends and opportunities for exploring the wider world. Children get a lot of benefit from being online. However they should have parental supervision and good advice to make sure their experiences are happy and safe.
For Christmas, many people young and old will receive gifts to enable them to get online much easier.
In anticipation of this Northumbria Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner supportied a campaign to encourage young people, parents and carers in particular to follow some simple advice (see below).
We would also encourage you to access the getsafe online webpage 

Mobile devices, game consoles and wearables make great presents …

… are you buying one this Christmas? In all the excitement, it can be easy to forget to make sure it’s set up and used safely and securely, so we’ve brought you some expert, practical tips to help.
  • Download an internet security app on mobile devices – including Apple – and ensure you keep it updated. There’s a wide choice available, some cover several devices, and some have advanced security features to reduce the impact of loss or theft.
  • Download app updates when prompted, as they frequently contain security updates.
  • Update operating systems when prompted, as this will also ensure you benefit from the latest online security.
  • Download apps only from official sources such as App Store, Google Play or Microsoft Store.
  • Protect all mobile devices with a PIN or password, even if they feature biometric protection.
  • Keep devices secure and out of harm’s way, as the information on them – and accessed from them – could be worth a lot more than the device itself in the wrong hands.
  • If you’ve bought a second-hand mobile device, remove the previous owner’s settings and data if this hasn’t already been done. If you’re selling, carry out a reset. Find out how by reading the manufacturer’s website. Ensure the device is running the most up-do-date version of the operating system and apps before using it.
  • Change factory-set passwords to your own secure passwords as soon as you connect the device to your Wi-Fi.
  • Never leave mobile devices or wearables unattended in vehicles, cafés, the gym or other public places. Take advantage of the safe in hotel rooms.
  • Keep phones, tablets and wearables protected when out and about in crowded areas. They make attractive targets for pickpockets and ride-by thieves.
  • Remember that clicking on email attachments or links in emails, text messages and social media posts could infect your device with malware, including ransomware and spyware. Think before you click.
  • Back up all your devices regularly so that your data, photos and music will be protected in the case of theft, loss or damage.
  • If the device is for a child or young person, sit down and speak to them about safe and responsible use of the internet, including what they say and who they communicate with. You could also download a respected parental control app to block unsuitable content. And make sure that bills aren’t being run up for in-game purchases.
Parents and carers need to be aware of problems that can arise, such as bullying and grooming, and know what to do. Here are some useful links that will provide appropriate information to help you in guiding your children. A beginners guide to using the internet with interactive tutorials about all aspects of computer and internet use, getting started on social networks, privacy and safety online.
  Kidsmart is an award winning practical internet safety programme website for schools, young people, parents, and agencies, produced by the children's internet charity Childnet International. This link will take you to practical advice and support on how to help your children use the internet and new technology in safe and responsible ways.
Understanding the internet and what the risks are of grooming, mobiles, gaming, social networking and chat. With advice from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.
  The award-winning charity Bullying Online was founded in 1999 by journalist Liz Carnell from Harrogate and her son John, as a direct result of their experience of dealing with school bullying.
  Childnet’s mission is to work in partnership with others around the world to help make the internet a great and safe place for children.

BBC Chatguide booklet for parents on all types of chat from instant messaging and chat rooms to mobile phones.

NWG Network and Marie Collins Foundation (MCF) have worked together to support professionals and parents and have created new resources for parents and carers, and professionals: Sexual Abuse Online - how can I help my child? (NWG Network and Marie Collins Foundation)

Visit the social networking sites’ own online safety pages: Safer Internet Day took place on 5th February 2019 as a global event to raise awareness of internet safety. Locally, the Youth Service worked over previous Safer Internet Days to produce and distribute information to children and young people. For 2020, a new poster was developed as well as producing new wallet cards with useful tips for staying safe online. Whilst the cards and information are designed to be shared with young people, the tips are applicable to professionals alike.
If you would like more information on the campaign, or to request copies of the resources, please contact Andrew Elliott.  
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is defined as “all procedures (not operations) which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons” (World Health Organisation, 1996)

FGM is abuse of the human rights of girls and women and is therefore a child protection issue. It is illegal in the UK to subject a child to female genital mutilation (FGM) or to take a child abroad to undergo FGM.
  • 20,000 girls under the age of 15 at risk of FGM every year
  • The maximum sentence of years in prison for carrying out FGM or helping it to take place is 14 years
If you suspect that any girl in Northumberland is at immediate risk of being subjected to any form of FGM you must take action to report it immediately by contacting the police on 999.

FGM constitutes child abuse and causes physical, psychological and sexual harm.
  • She has a parent from a practising community.
  • She and her family have a low integration into a community.
  • The mother or any sisters have experienced FGM.
  • She is withdrawn from PSHE.
  • She has talked about, or you know about the arrival of a female family elder.
  • She talks about it to other children.
  • She refers to a ‘special procedure’ or ‘special occasion’ or ‘becoming a woman’.
  • She is out of the country for a prolonged period.
  • She is taking a long holiday to her country of origin or another country where the practice is prevalent (Parents may talk about it too).
  • A girl has problems walking/standing/sitting.
  • She spends a lot of time in the bathroom/toilet.
  • She has bladder or menstrual problems.
  • She has prolonged or repeated absences from school.
  • She has a reluctance to undergo medical examinations.
To read detailed procedures, go to Female Genital Mutilation.
Domestic abuse (also called domestic violence) is a crime and a major social problem affecting many families. In 90% of reported domestic violence incidents, children have either been present in the same or a nearby room.

The government, in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, defines domestic violence as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are, or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexual orientation’.

Family members includes mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, and grandparents, whether directly related, in-laws or stepfamily.
  • Domestic violence may teach children to use violence.
  • Violence can affect children in serious and long-lasting ways.
  • Where there is domestic violence there is often child abuse.
  • Children will often blame themselves for domestic violence.
  • Alcohol misuse is very common contributing factor when violence occurs in families.
  • Pregnant women are more vulnerable to domestic violence.
Children, who witness, intervene or hear incidents are affected in many ways. What can be guaranteed is that children do hear, they do see and they are aware of abuse in the family. Children will learn how to behave from examples parents set for them. Domestic violence teaches children negative things about relationships and how to deal with people. For instance:
  • It can teach them that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict.
  • They learn how to keep secrets.
  • They learn to mistrust those close to them and that children are responsible and to blame for violence, especially if violence erupts after an argument about the children.
Many people find it difficult to understand why people remain in or return to abusive violent situations. A combination of fear, love, the risk of homelessness and financial issues can make it very difficult for partners with children to leave and some may not want to.

Children are affected in many ways by abuse, even after a short time. These effects include: feeling frightened, becoming withdrawn, bedwetting, running away, aggressiveness, behavioural difficulties, problems with school, poor concentration and emotional turmoil.

The longer children are exposed to abuse, the more severe the effects on them are. These can include:
  • a lack of respect for the non-violent parent
  • loss of self-confidence, which will affect their ability to form relationships in the future
  • being over-protective of parent
  • loss of childhood
  • problems at school
  • running away 
Domestic violence is a crime. Never hesitate to call the police who have specialist domestic violence officers trained to help you and put you in touch with other agencies who can help you with safety planning, housing issues, drug or alcohol problems or give details of solicitors who can assist you with the legal side of things.
Northumbria Police can be contacted on 999.

Other useful links
Northumberland County Council is asking for anyone who is involved in or aware of a privately arranged care situation for any child living in Northumberland, to encourage the carer and / or parent to come forward and contact their local district office.

This plea comes with the ongoing national campaign Somebody Else’s Child, which is run by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).

The campaign aims to raise awareness of private fostering, in particular the charity BAAF is targeting professionals working with children, particularly teachers.

There are many situations where people, for a whole range of reasons and with the best of intentions, are doing someone else a favour and having their child live with them. What they often do not realise is that, where the child is staying for 28 days of more, as part of protecting our children in the community, they have a legal responsibility to inform the local council.