Everyone can help to spot the signs of abuse

This story was published 19 September 2017

Abuse can happen to anyone and can take many different forms – which is why the theme of this year’s safeguarding awareness week from 9 to 13 October is ‘Safeguarding is everybody’s business’.


Safeguarding week aims to raise awareness of the different forms abuse and the part everyone can play in helping to spot abuse.

Professionals from all agencies working to safeguard children and adults across York and North Yorkshire will attend a conference in Harrogate on 9 October to learn more about the issue and to share ideas.

Delegates will hear from Lorin LaFave, whose son, Breck, was groomed online and killed by his groomer. She founded the Breck Foundation to raise awareness of the dangers young people face online every day.

Professor Nick Frost, Independent Chair of the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Many parents are nervous about how to protect their children when they use the internet, especially in the light of high-profile news stories about online grooming.”

From a survey of children in North Yorkshire schools, eight per cent said they communicate with people they have met online and don’t know in real life, and 33 per cent said they use picture/video sharing sites and apps. Six per cent of pupils said that they had seen pictures or videos that they found upsetting online and almost a third said that they are never supervised when using the internet at home.

The conference will also hear from Jamie Bartlett, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, who will talk about social media monitoring, the dark net and hidden internet subcultures.

Other subjects addressed in the conference will include modern slavery, suicide prevention, hate crime, financial abuse and exploitation, safeguarding in sport and the Prevent programme, which works with individuals vulnerable to extremism.

“During safeguarding week we want to emphasise that everyone has a role to play in spotting signs of abuse,” said Kevin McAleese of the City of York Safeguarding Adults Board. “We want to educate and reach out to everyone, to ask people to be vigilant in their everyday lives.

“We also want to appeal to professionals who might be well-placed to spot abuse in their working lives, such as people working in voluntary sector services, housing professionals, fire services, dentists, hairdressers and sporting organisations.”

There are many signs of abuse, for example when someone looks dirty or is not dressed properly, has an injury that is difficult to explain, seems frightened around certain people, seems unusually sad or withdrawn, or finds money is missing.

Detective Superintendent Nigel Costello, Head of Safeguarding at North Yorkshire Police, said: “Anyone you know could be at risk of abuse or neglect. Abuse affects many more people other than just those we see as a victim.

“People can be more vulnerable at different times in their lives and it’s important that we all recognise signs of abuse and neglect, not just physical injuries but the changes in peoples presentation and behaviour. We all need to look out for those people in their time of need and make sure they know where and how to get help.

“Abuse can take many forms, such as physical, emotional, financial and online. Often, those suffering abuse or neglect do not recognise or admit that they are a victim and so it is important we raise awareness of these issues so that appropriate measures can be taken to safeguard them and deal with perpetrators.

“It is totally unacceptable in today’s society for anyone to suffer abuse or neglect, it must be stopped. If anyone thinks they are suffering from some form of abuse, or if you have concerns about another person, then you can contact the police for advice and support.”

During safeguarding week, events will be held across North Yorkshire and York to offer advice and guidance on a range of issues such as staying safe online, cyber-bullying, grooming and safety in sport, as well as advice for parents. To find an event in your area and to book a place, go to www.northyorks.gov.uk/safeguardingweek.

Safeguarding week in North Yorkshire and York is being supported by the four Safeguarding Boards that look after children, young people and adults in North Yorkshire and York and their partner organisations, including the Office of the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the Community Safety Partnerships.

Anyone who is concerned that someone they know may be the subject of abuse should report it:

North Yorkshire:

Children: http://www.safeguardingchildren.co.uk/worried-about-child
Adults: Please call the Customer Services Centre on 01609 780780, opening hours are 8am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday. This number will be answered by the Emergency duty team outside these hours.

City of York: contact adult social care, tel: 01904 555111; out of hours tel: 01609 780780

Adults https://www.safeguardingadultsyork.org.uk/what-is-safeguarding/how-to-raise-a-safeguarding-concern/
Children: http://www.saferchildrenyork.org.uk/

If you think that a child or young person is being abused or neglected, call the Children's Front Door on 01904 551900 or email childrensfrontdoor@york.gov.uk.

For more information about types and signs of abuse, you can go to: http://www.safeguardingchildren.co.uk/