Report a concern about a child

Most children enjoy a safe and happy childhood but for some this is not the case. Everyone has a responsibility to protect children from future harm; good childcare begins even before a child is born.

What should I do if I think a child is at risk of significant harm?

In an emergency, always call 999.

Otherwise, please contact the First Response service at Staffordshire County Council.

Phone: 0800 1313 126

Lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.

Out of hours

If you need to contact them outside of these hours, please call the emergency duty service:

Phone: 0845 604 2886

You can also report a concern online.

Staffordshire Police also offer safeguarding support. To speak to them, please call 101 and ask for M.A.S.H - this stands for Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub.

Do I have to give my name?

No - it is your choice. If you decide that you want to remain anonymous that decision will be respected.

Professionals making a referral should be aware that they cannot be guaranteed anonymity.

What happens next?

Social workers will follow up every report where they believe a child may be at risk of harm. They will talk to other people who know the child and may be able to provide a clearer picture. This includes teachers, health visitors and members of the child's family.

A few different things could then happen:

  • no further action will be taken
  • help and support will be offered to the family
  • an investigation will take place

Are children taken away from home?

Very rarely - social workers cannot remove a child from their family without the permission of the court. This only happens when there are real concerns that the child will not be safe at home, and then consideration is always given to the child being looked after by a relative or a friend.

Will I be told what has happened?

You should receive written confirmation that your referral has been received and acted upon unless your report was anonymous.

About child abuse and neglect

Child abuse and neglect means inflicting harm or not taking action to protect a child from harm.

This can happen at home, by people living near their home (in their community) or by an adult who is responsible for caring for them such as from a school, nursery, college, sports and leisure centre, afterschool club and youth club.

Sometimes children are abused by a stranger they have met over the internet or by other children.

Types of physical abuse

  • cuts, bruises, burns, scalds or broken bones, which have not happened by accident
  • injuries as a result of shaking, or throwing in the case of babies
  • deliberately inducing illness in a child

Types of emotional abuse 

  • making a child feel constantly worthless or unloved, frightened or in danger
  • not giving a child opportunity to express their views
  • deliberately silencing them or making ‘fun’ of what they say or how they communicate
  • seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another
  • bullying (including cyber bullying)
  • causing children to feel frightened or in danger
  • exploitation or corruption of children

Types of sexual abuse 

  • being around when someone is watching pornographic material
  • activities such as physical contact
  • assault such as rape or non-penetrative acts such as kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing
  • looking at, or the production of, sexual images
  • encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, grooming a child

In most cases sexual abuse is carried out by a person who is known to the child - even a member of their own family. 


Neglect can be when a child is left alone or left with unsuitable caregivers. The child may not be fed or clothed properly, or not be taken to the doctors when they are unwell. Neglect also involves not protecting a child from danger. 

For further information on signs of abuse and neglect, please see the Staffordshire Safeguarding Children's Board website.