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Safeguarding children


Child protection involves taking steps to safeguard children and young people at risk or suffering from physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Safeguarding children standards

The government defines safeguarding as:

“The process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care that enables children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.”

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights of children to be free from abuse. In England, the law states that people who work with children and young people have to try to keep them safe. Organisations are also required to talk and work together to agree how best to collaborate in safeguarding children.

What you should do if you think a child is being abused

If you think you or the child is in immediate danger and needs urgent help, please call the police on 999.

Please contact us if you are:

  • Concerned that a child may be suffering physical, sexual or emotional abuse or is being neglected
  • A child or young person and you are being abused or neglected
  • A parent or carer and you feel you are harming your child or are close to doing so

Professionals - Reporting safeguarding concerns

Make a referral for a child or young person in need, or where there is reason to suspect they are likely to suffer significant harm because of abuse or neglect. Professionals can report a safeguarding concern on the Joint Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Safeguarding website (link below). There is also full supporting guidance, risk assessment tools and threshold information on the website.

Public - Reporting safeguarding concerns

Please let us know if you have safeguarding concerns, or are worried about a child.

If you are not a professional involved with the child or family, you do not have to give your name and your conversation will be treated confidentially. 

Find out more about how the council delivers our safeguarding and early help services.

What is child abuse

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

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, children living in a home environment where there is domestic or other forms of abuse.

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.

Domestic Abuse – any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: Psychological, Physical, Sexual, Financial, Emotional.

Child sexual exploitation – In February 2017, CSE was redefined as ‘a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology’. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Safeguarding Children Boards have produced leaflets with advice for children & young people, parents & carers, and professionals.

Extremism and radicalisation – signs to look out for include: Being drawn into to strong principles and ideologies held by others, as a means to control, social network involvement in extremism, being at a transitional time in life, having a need for identity, meaning and belonging, being influenced or controlled by a groups, feelings of grievance and injustice, feeling under threat , displaying mental health concerns, a desire for status, a desire for excitement or adventure and/or a need to dominate and control others.

Further information

Find out more about safeguarding people who may be susceptible to radicalisation on the ACT Early website.

You can also get advice and help from NSPCC or call 0808 800 500 for all concerns around abuse and neglect, and from Stop It Now! for concerns around sexual abuse.

Children and young people can also contact Childline for support.