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Recognising Child Abuse

Safeguarding children is the process of protecting them from harm, abuse or neglect. There are different types of abuse that children may experience, such as:

  • Physical abuse: This is when someone deliberately hurts a child or causes them physical injuries
  • Emotional abuse: This is when someone makes a child feel unloved, worthless, scared or humiliated
  • Sexual abuse: This is when someone involves a child in sexual activities that they do not understand or consent to
  • Neglect: This is when someone fails to meet a child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, health care or education
  • Exploitation: This is when someone takes advantage of a child for their own benefit, such as forcing them to work, beg, steal or engage in criminal activities

Abuse can take place wholly online, or technology may be used to facilitate offline abuse. Children may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.

Practitioners should be alert to the key signs of abuse as set out in our local procedures. It can be particularly difficult for practitioners to recognise the signs of neglect in circumstances where there has not been any significant incident or event that highlights concerns; in many cases of neglect it is more likely that there will be a series of concerns over a period that, taken together, demonstrate that the child is in need or at risk.  The Bracknell Forest Neglect Strategy provides detailed definition of neglect and other factors to consider in assisting and further supporting practitioners in early identification and intervention. 

If staff or volunteers observes bruising or suspicious marks to a child who is not independently mobile they should follow the multi-agency bruising protocol.  There is also a leaflet explaining the process to parents/carers.

Bracknell Forest Safeguarding Board Threshold Guidance: Understanding the continuum of help and support

This guidance provides a framework for professionals who are working with children and families, and aims to help identify circumstances when children may need additional support to achieve their full potential. It introduces a continuum of help and support, provides information on the levels of children’s need and gives examples of some of the factors that may indicate when a child or young person needs additional support or protection. The guidance is supported by our online child protection procedures with additional links provided to enable further reading on specific topics.    

If you think that a child is at risk of being harmed or neglected please contact MASH: