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What to do if you think a child is being abused or neglected

You can find information on what to do if you think a child is being abused or neglected on our What to do if you are worried about a child page.

Abuse can take different forms. Common types are:

  • Neglect – the persistent lack of essential care for a child including enough love, stimulation, safety, food, clothing, shelter, medical care or education. It can also mean leaving a child alone and at risk.
  • Emotional abuse – can mean repeatedly rejecting a child, constantly threatening or putting a child or young person down so that they ​feel unloved and worthless.
  • Physical abuse – including hitting, punching, burning, poisoning, attempted drowning and smothering.
  • Sexual abuse – forcing or persuading a child or young person to take part in any kind of sexual activity. It can include inappropriate touching, kissing or sexual intercourse. It can also involve causing a child to look at, or being involved in pornographic material or videos.

A child may experience more than one type of abuse or neglect.

We have a legal duty to look into a child’s circumstances when somebody suspects abuse or neglect is occurring. A social worker usually does this job for us. The social worker will need you to give them relevant information so they can plan the best way of checking the child is safe and, if necessary, draw up plans for further action.

​The NSPCC website offers helpful information for parents and carers on a range of issues, such as internet safety, protecting children at home and positive parenting tips.

You can find out more about what the MSCP and our partners are doing by following the links below:


Domestic Violence – the effect on children and young people

For more information on the effects of domestic violence and where to get information and advice see – Domestic abuse (NSPCC website)

Drug and alcohol misuse

Local organisations that can help – Merton Family Services Directory