If you have concerns about a child you must seek advice from professionals. If you think a child or young person under the age of 18 years is being abused or neglected, please contact the Gateway team in your local Health and Social Care Trust (contact numbers below). Do this as soon as you can and before the situation gets any worse.
If you believe that a child or young person is at immediate risk, this should be reported without delay to the police service as a 999 emergency and contact should also be made to your local Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust:
- Belfast HSC Trust - 028 9050 7000
- Northern HSC Trust - 0300 1234 333
- South Eastern HSC Trust - 0300 1000 300
- Southern HSC Trust - 0800 7837 745
- Western HSC Trust - 028 7131 4090
You can talk with an NSPCC counsellor for free, 24 hours a day. Call 0808 800 5000.
What is abuse
Child abuse occurs when a child is neglected, harmed or not provided with proper care. Children may be abused in many settings, for example, in a family, in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them, or more rarely, by a stranger. There are different types of abuse and a child may suffer more than one of them.
Physical abuse is the deliberate physical injury to a child, or the wilful or neglectful failure to prevent physical injury or suffering. This may include hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, confinement to a room or cot, or inappropriately giving drugs to control behaviour.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s physical, emotional and/or psychological needs, likely to result in significant harm. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate foods, shelter and clothing; failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger; failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment; lack of stimulation or lack of supervision.