I’m worried about someone else’s child

If you have seen or heard something that has made you worry about a child who you don’t have caring responsibility for, it can be hard to know the right thing to do. Whether the child is your grandchild, sibling, family friend or neighbour, it’s important to trust your instincts if you think a child is at risk of abuse or neglect. 

You can also read our advice if you’re worried your child isn’t safe with their other parent. 

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Urgent help

If a child is being harmed or is in immediate danger of being harmed, call 999. 

If you are a child or young person and you’re worried about something that’s happening to you or another child, you can call Childline on 0800 1111. 

How to report concerns about a child

If you are worried about a child, but don’t think they are in immediate danger, you can: 

  • Contact the children’s services team in your local council.  
  • Contact your local police or call 101. 
  • Contact the NSPCC on one of their dedicated helplines. 
  • If you know of any professionals involved with the child, like their school or nursery, you could report it to them and they will follow their safeguarding process.   

When you report it, try to be as detailed as possible about what you have seen or heard and clearly state the facts. 

The person you report it to might gather more information or refer it to someone else, like the police or social services. They might tell you what will happen next, but they won’t be able to share confidential information with you. 

It’s understandable to feel nervous about reporting your concerns. You might be worried about what will happen to the parent or that the child will be taken into care. Please be assured that your concerns will be investigated thoroughly, and the response will be appropriate for the situation. Whatever happens will always be in the best interest of the child to keep them safe, so you are doing the right thing. 

How to tell if a child is at risk

It’s not always obvious if a child is at risk of abuse or neglect. Some signs that you might worry about are: 

  • Children appearing anxious or withdrawn, especially if their behaviour changes around a particular person. 
  • Hearing a child crying for long periods of time or if you hear shouting, hitting or things being broken. 
  • Very young children being left home alone or outside of the home on their own. 
  • Physical signs like bruising or appearing hungry or dirty.  

NSPCC has more information about different types of abuse and neglect. 

If you’re unsure if what you’ve seen or heard is anything to worry about, it’s still worth reporting as it could provide useful information if there are already concerns about the child. 

Talking to the child’s parent or carer

Before deciding to talk to the child’s parent or carer about your concerns, think about whether it’s safe to do so. If you think their child is being abused or neglected, they could become angry or aggressive if you raise it, or they might try to cover it up. If you think talking to them could put you or the child in further danger, you should report it without speaking to them first. 

However, in some situations you might be concerned about a family when the parent themself could do with some help or support. 

You or the parent can also ask for advice from our parenting coaches. 

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