News – Preventing child abuse: five ways to help keep children safe – Linda Jackson

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Many people think that preventing child abuse is the sole job of social workers and the police. But everyone has a role to play in keeping young people safe. Together with schools, sports and youth clubs and others in your community, you can prevent abuse by simply acting on worries – big or small, says NSPCC children’s practitioner Leila Canay.

Drawing on her experience working for Together for Childhood, an NSPCC community-led programme aimed at the prevention of child sexual abuse, Canay has these five ways you can help.

Look out for signs of abuse
Cuts and bruises are obvious physical signs of abuse and easy to detect. Evidence of sexual abuse is harder to find. But there are indicators that you should look out for.

Noticing changes in a child’s presentation or behaviour is key, they may become angry or withdrawn, they may spend more time in their bedroom, or they may run away or fall behind at school. They could also start using sexualised language or have an increase in online friends. All these are possible signs that something is wrong, says Canay.

“Don’t just think about your own children, think about other children in the neighbourhood. It’s about everyone taking responsibility and being curious about children and their wellbeing.”

Share any concerns
Don’t be afraid of voicing your worries or scared of repercussions, says Canay. Too many people do nothing because they fear a child may be taken into care, even though this is a last resort. Talk to other people in the child’s life such as teachers, health visitors, doctors or community leaders, she adds.

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