THE BLOG

Be the Voice for Abused Children

01/10/2014 16:15 BST | Updated 01/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Concerns about the welfare of a child are not feelings anyone wants to have, but if you are worried about a child's safety, what do you do and would you know who to go to if you wanted to report it?

Child neglect is rife, affecting more than 1.5million children in the UK. There is heightened public awareness of this issue due to awful, high profile cases, where children have died.

The added tragedy is, we know that a quarter of people are worried about the safety and welfare of a child, but 45% of people simply do not know who to tell and 35% of those with concerns choose not voice them.

At Action for Children we have campaigned for a single web portal where people anywhere in the country can report suspicions of child abuse anonymously - and now a new government web portal has gone live. Why not tell your friends and family to keep a note of the web address too? The more people who know it's there, the better.

Of course, doubt and fear of getting it wrong must play on people's minds even if they are worried. Often there are no obvious, physical signs of neglect. But if a child you know shows signs of not being fed or clothed properly, is missing school a lot or is left unsupervised and alone inappropriately for their age, we urge people to alert the professionals.

I remember speaking to Claire [not her real name], one of our many fantastic foster carers. She has been looking after a 15-year-old boy who came into her care about two years ago, having suffered years of neglect. She spoke of how he looked like an 'eight-year-old' because he had been so badly underfed and he didn't know the basics like how to wash himself or brush his teeth. She had to teach this teenager from scratch. Two years on, he is now thriving. Hearing stories like this makes you think how different things could have been if something had happened earlier?

We hope that this simple measure will encourage people to voice their concerns and ensure that children's cries for help that are heard by neighbours and friends are also heard by the professionals who can intervene and help these children in desperate situations.