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Information for Adults

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Here you will find information aimed at parents, carers and other adults in contact with children and young people on how to keep them safe from harm. Children are a gift and it is the duty the adults around them and their community to protect them.

Every child and young person has rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Convention states that all children and young people up to the age of 18 have rights that must be protected. It is expected within UK law that all these rights are upheld for every child or young person.

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is against children’s rights can endanger a child’s survival, security and development so it’s important to know what it is. Child abuse does not only mean actively hurting or harming a child – it also includes neglect and emotional abuse – and rarely occurs as a single event.

There are four types of child abuse, as defined in the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2010 (33-36) (link to These are:

  • Physical Abuse – This is the deliberate hurting of a child, causing them harm or injury. It is difficult to know for certain if a child’s injury or behaviour is the result of physical abuse, but if you are worried by something, it’s best to act on your concerns.


  • Emotional Abuse – This is serious and sustained poor treatment which can adversely affect a child’s health and development. All children need to feel wanted, loved and safe and emotional abuse can have a severe and long-lasting effect on a child.


  • Sexual Abuse – This involves persuading or forcing a child to take part in sexual activities, or encouraging a child to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. Sexual abuse does not only include physical contact – it also includes forcing a child to watch sexual activities or look at inappropriate videos or images. For many sexually abused children, the effects last well into adulthood. If you are concerned or discover that a child is being sexually abused, you must get advice.


  • Neglect – All children need food, water, shelter, warmth, protection and health care to be safe, healthy and happy. They also need their parents and carers to be attentive, kind and reliable. Children are neglected if these essential needs are not met. If your common sense tells you something is wrong, it’s important that you act on your concerns.

In addition to the above, bullying and racism can have a detrimental effect on a child or young person. Bullying is hurtful and damaging behaviour, usually repeated over long periods of time. There is also a growing concern about bullying online, through social networking sites.

A child may also be experiencing bullying, or unfair treatment because of their race, culture, religion or nationality. It is important that child understands that racism is against the law and that it should stop.

All forms of abuse can have serious and harmful effects on the wellbeing of a child and can result in damage to their development and happiness. It’s important that abuse is prevented, recognised and dealt with as early as possible.

Reporting Concerns

As a concerned adult, you do not have to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place, but you have a responsibility and duty to act if you are concerned about the wellbeing of a child.

If you are worried about a child you know, talk to someone you can trust, like a family member, or call the Family Protection Unit at your local police station. In some circumstances, talking to the child you are concerned about or the adult you think might be harming a child may help you understand the situation better. But do not put yourself, or the child, in danger.

If you are a staff member or volunteer working with children, you should approach the designated person within your organisation. All staff and volunteers should know who the designated person to refer to within the organisation is and who to approach if they are unavailable. Ultimately, all staff and volunteers have the right to make a referral to the police or social care directly and should do this if, for whatever reason, there are difficulties following the organisation’s agreed protocol or they are concerned about the child’s immediate safety.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.

If you would like further advice or information, contact roshni on 0141 218 4010 or email


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