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Information for children and young people about abuse

This section contains information on how children and young people can keep themselves safe from different forms of abuse and neglect.

If you are being abused, or are concerned about a friend, there are people who can help:

  • a teacher at your school, a GP at your doctors surgery, workers at youth clubs

If you feel the first person you ask is not helpful, please ask someone else.  Your safety is the most important thing.

Types of abuse

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts or injures you. Hitting, kicking, beating with objects, throwing and shaking are all physical abuse, and can cause pain, cuts, bruising, broken bones and sometimes even death. No one has the right to hurt you in this way.

Physical abuse is when someone is hurting you.

That could be hurting you with their hands, their feet, or an object – hitting, slapping, punching, pinching, kicking or suffocating you. It could include scalding or burning you or pulling your hair out.

If someone makes you swallow something that hurts, or makes you ill, including giving you medicine when you are not ill or do not need it, that's physical abuse too.

If this is happening to you, you might think that it's your fault. It isn't. No one has the right to hurt you. If you speak out about physical abuse, there are people who care – they will listen to you and help you.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone – boys and girls. If you are being sexually abused it’s not your fault and you are not alone.

Sexual abuse is when:

  • you are being touched in a way you don’t like

  • you’re being forced to have sex

  • you are forced to look at sexual pictures or videos

  • you’re made to watch someone do something sexual (this can include someone flashing or exposing themselves to you)

  • you’re made to do something that feels uncomfortable or wrong.

If this is happening to you, you might think that it’s your fault. It isn’t. No one has the right to sexually abuse you, even your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you speak out about it, there are people who will listen to you and help you.

It doesn’t matter who the person is that is making you do these things they are sexually abusing you. It is possible to be sexually abused by someone you know or love. This does not make what they are doing OK.

You can’t tell by looking at someone whether they are a sexual abuser or not. Anyone might be a sexual abuser, but it is more likely that sexual abuse would be by someone you know. It might even be someone you love and trust, like a member of your family. A sexual abuser can be male or female.

If this is happening to you, you might think that it is your fault. It isn’t. No one has the right to sexually abuse you. There are people who care – they will listen to you and help you.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is when someone tries to make you feel bad. This can be by saying things on purpose to scare you, putting you down, embarrassing or humiliating you. This might be on purpose or without realising that what they are saying or doing is making you feel bad.

If someone is always telling you that you are ugly, or fat, or stupid, or worthless, or that they wish you had never been born, that’s emotional abuse. It’s wrong, even if they are not doing it on purpose.

If this is happening to you, you might think that it’s your fault. It isn’t. No one has the right to emotionally abuse you. There are people who care – they will listen to you and help you.

Neglect

Neglect is when you are not being looked after or supervised properly. If the people who are supposed to look after you don't give you the important things you need, or make it hard for you to take care of yourself, then that's neglect.

You could be suffering from neglect if:

  • you don't have enough warm clothes or shoes

  • you don't have enough to eat and drink

  • you're left alone for a long time, or left in charge of family without adult help

  • you're forced to sleep somewhere cold or uncomfortable

  • no one helps you when you're are ill or you've been hurt.

If this is happening to you, you might think that it's your fault. It isn't. No one has the right to neglect you. If you speak out about neglect, there are people who care – they will listen to you and help you.

Other things you may be worried about

The following websites contain information about lots of things that may be worrying you:

Bullying

Being safe online

Being a young carer

If you are a child or young person under the age of 18 years and are providing care to a vulnerable adult over 18 years, the Lewisham Young Carers Project may be able to help you. Young carers are children and young people who are the carers of a sick or disabled parent or sibling, or a parent with a drug or alcohol problem. There are between 15,000 and 50,000 young carers in the UK.

Young carers can face serious caring responsibilities. In addition to the daily tasks you complete for your parents (such as emotional support, housework, cooking and bathing) you may live with the added pressure of school and, often, a lack of understanding from schoolmates. The physical and emotional strain is sometimes too much – maybe you skip school and suffer from depression.

Why is the LSCB important to you?

The Lewisham Safeguarding Children Board is a group of people who are interested in and have regular contact with children and young people both locally and nationally.

This group exists to make sure that organisations in Lewisham, and the staff who work with them, are effective in ensuring that children and young people are kept safe and that their wellbeing is protected.

They make sure that they learn what is needed to safeguard children and young people, that any relevant learning is shared with other organisations within Lewisham through meetings and written reports. They also develop papers called policies which give instructions to organisations about how they should be working with and safeguarding children and young people in Lewisham.

Useful websites