North Yorkshire residents urged to watch for signs of “hidden harm”

This story was published 19 May 2021

Communities in North Yorkshire are being urged to be alert to changes in children and young people which could suggest they are suffering “hidden harm” or abuse.

Safeguarding children graphic

As more meeting places, clubs and venues open up as further Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be eased over the coming weeks, North Yorkshire’s Safeguarding Children Partnership (NYSCP) is asking people to be their eyes and ears in the community and report any concerns they might have for children.

Pressures on families arising from periods of social isolation during the pandemic have increased the risk of mental and physical harm to children and young people, but these signs of harm have been harder to detect, due to the lack of usual face-to-face interaction.

North Yorkshire County Council’s head of safeguarding, Danielle Johnson, said “We have worked closely as a partnership to reach out to those who are in need of our services and support. 

“We launched the Hidden Harm Campaign earlier this year to highlight the additional pressures and risks faced by some children and young people and ask that communities to look out for each other and report any concerns they may have.

“We are encouraging people to be vigilant and if you have concerns for a child; tell us. If you feel something is wrong; ring it in.

“We know lockdown restrictions have brought additional pressures for some families and increased the risk of issues such as domestic abuse. We would urge anyone in need of support for themselves, or their children, to speak to someone. Please don’t suffer in silence.”

Being at home for prolonged periods of time has placed some children and young people at greater risk of domestic abuse or neglect, especially coupled with the reduced social contact with wider family networks and friends, as well as professionals such teaching staff and health care workers.

Possible indicators of harm can include;

  • a change in behaviour such as becoming unusually withdrawn;
  • secretive behaviour;
  • self-harming;
  • A young person having more money, clothes or other items they usually couldn’t afford.
  • Children being seen in places they shouldn’t be during normal school term-time, or school hours.

A full list of possible signs of physical or mental harm can be found on the Partnership (NYSCP) website.

North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (NYSCP) say anyone worried a child may be at risk of abuse or neglect can make a referral to the North Yorkshire Multi-Agency Screening Team (MAST), whether a member of the public, or a professional. You can report your concerns at North Yorkshire Customer Service Centre on 01609 780780.

Where there are significant, immediate concerns about the safety of a child, contact the police on 999.

The County Council is one of three partners for safeguarding children arrangements, which along with North Yorkshire Police and NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group  make up NYSCP.

A podcast has also been created by the members of safeguarding children partnership, containing information for anyone who has concerns about a child and wants to know what to do next.

Anyone worried about a child can also visit the NYSCP website for more information. See information for parents with concerns for their child.