Across Knowsley, a range of different agencies work together to ensure that children are protected and safeguarded. This work is continuing during the current Coronavirus pandemic. However, safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, so at this challenging time, everyone is being asked to be even more vigilant and to report any concerns regarding a child.
Being away from friends due to social distancing, self-isolation and schools being closed for the majority of pupils (open for vulnerable children or the children of key workers) can present many challenges for families in terms of children wanting to go out and socialise, increased access to online games and programmes and making new friends online.
This presents a number of risk factors, such as online grooming, as well as a range of other potential risks for children such as witnessing domestic abuse or being the victim of abuse themselves.
Spotting the signs of abuse
Some of the signs you may spot include:
- aggressive or repeated shouting
- hearing hitting or things being broken
- children crying for long periods of time
- very young children left alone or are outdoors by themselves
- children looking dirty or not changing their clothes
- children being withdrawn or anxious
These signs do not necessarily mean that a child is being abused, but you may wish to seek advice.
Keep your child safe online
It is important to have regular conversations about staying safe online and to encourage children to speak to you if they come across something worrying online.
There are support mechanisms in place to provide guidance for parents and carers to keep children safe online. This can include setting up filtering systems and age-appropriate controls. Further information is available at:
Thinkuknow – provides resources for parents and carers and children of all ages to help keep children safe online
- Childnet has developed guidance for parents and carers to begin a conversation about online safety, as well as guidance on keeping under-fives safe online
- UK Safer Internet Centre provides tips and advice for parents and carers to keep children safe online – you can also report any harmful content found online through the UK Safer Internet Centre
Reporting your concerns
If your child has been a victim of child sexual abuse – online or offline – and you believe they are in immediate danger, you should call 999 and ask for the police.
If you have any concerns about the wellbeing of a child, report it to the Knowsley Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 0151 443 2600.
Cllr Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “These are unprecedented times for us all, but we need to ensure that our children and young people are protected and safe at all times. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, so if you do have any concerns, please share them and let us help.”