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Keeping safe as a child/young person

As a young person, you have the right to be safe at all times, in all environments, whether that’s at home, school, on the street, or online. You have the right to grow up safe and free from the threat of being hurt – physically or emotionally – or not being cared for properly. All the adults in your life have a legal responsibility to protect you.

If something is worrying you, making you scared, or you’re worried about someone else, and you’re not sure if it is abuse or not, it can be hard to know what to do. It’s important to talk to someone you trust like your parent or carer, friend, teacher or another adult you are comfortable with, even if you’re not sure.

Here you will find information on keeping safe and where you can go for support, help, information, or simply someone to talk to.

Where can I get help from?

If it’s an emergency, call 999

You can contact Childline by either text, email or phoning their free 24-hour helpline on 0800 1111.

You can text the NSPCC helpline anonymously on 88858.

If you would like to get some help locally, contact the Waltham Forest Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team. A social worker will speak to you:

  • Phone: 020 8496 2310
  • Opening times: Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm, Friday 9am to 5pm)
  • Out-of-hours phone: 020 8496 3000

What is safeguarding?

You may have heard the term ‘child protection’ before. Child protection is about dealing with concerns that a child may be being hurt or mistreated by someone. A social worker’s job, with the help of other workers like the police, health visitors and teachers, is to stop children from being harmed in any way. Safeguarding looks at what needs to happen to keep children and young people safe.

The Government has published a guide for young people explaining what abuse is and how to keep children safe. Read and download the Young Person's Guide to Keeping Children Safe on the Children's Commissioner website. 

What is neglect?

Every young person needs, and has a right, to have:

  • clothes that are clean and warm and shoes that fit and keep you dry
  • enough to eat and drink
  • protection from dangerous situations
  • somewhere warm, dry and comfortable to sleep
  • help when you're ill or you've been hurt
  • love and care from your parents or carers
  • support with your education
  • access to and help with medication, if needed

 Every child and young person has the right to be looked after properly. If you’re not getting the important things you need at home, you could be being neglected.

Further information

Watch this short film from Childline -

Read Leanne’s story on the Childline website – she talks about how neglect affected her when she was growing up.

What is child sexual exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation or CSE is a type of child abuse. It happens when a child or young person is encouraged or forced to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something such as presents, money, or simply attention.

CSE can happen to any child or young person, boy or girl, and it may well seem like a normal friendship or relationship to begin with. No matter who is affected by CSE it is never, ever their fault – even if they have agreed to some kind of sexual activity because they felt they ‘should’, had no other choice or didn’t fully understand consent.

Further information: leaflets

Barnardo’s: How to keep you and your friends safe from exploitation  

Further information: films

The Children's Society: Taylor’s Story – child sexual exploitation 

Staying safe online

Using the internet is an important part of many people’s lives, but it’s important to stay safe whilst online as things could go wrong. Posting pictures you wish you never did, sharing details about yourself you wish you hadn’t, or being bullied are just some examples.

If you feel frightened, threatened, worried, or unsafe about anything that has happened whilst using the internet, whether it’s on social media (such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or Instagram), or anywhere else on the internet, you should report it, as you have a right to be safe on the internet.

If you are worried about anything that has happened on the internet you can tell:

Top tips for staying safe online

  1. Be careful what you share. If it’s something you wouldn't want your teachers or parents to see, it's probably best not to post it, because once it's online, it's out of your control.
  2. Never meet people you don't know, even if you get on with them online, it’s impossible to know who they really are.
  3. Use a complex password. It should be hard for other people to guess your password and it's a good idea to change it regularly.

Further information: websites

Further information: films

  • Exposed This 10 minute drama has been designed for 14 to 18 year olds and deals with online issues that teenagers commonly face.
  • CEOP: Stop Speak Support 3 simple steps to tackling cyberbullying

Mental wellbeing

Mental health is all about:

  • how good you feel about yourself and those around you
  • your ability to socialise and form relationships
  • being able to learn from others
  • developing psychologically and emotionally 
  • having the strength to overcome difficulties and challenges in everyday life
  • believing in yourself and being confident in the decisions you make 

However, mental ill-health is very common. Around 1 in 10 young people have a mental health diagnosis and there are lots of others that are suffering with anxiety or depression but have not had this officially recognised.

Getting support

Many young people put off getting help with their mental health because they are worried what people may think of them or think that no one else will understand.  Mental ill health is treatable but it’s really important to get help at the earliest opportunities before things become more serious.

You can get support, advice and treatment in many forms. Firstly, a visit to the GP will kick start getting help. Talking to someone you trust such as a friend, sibling, parent/carer, youth worker or teacher is also important.

If you don’t know who to turn to or you want to speak to someone first that doesn’t know you, the following organisations are here to help:

Kooth is a FREE, anonymous, confidential, safe, online wellbeing service. It offers counselling, information and forums for children and young people.

Counsellors are available every day from:

  • 12noon to 10pm, Monday to Friday
  • 6pm to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday

There is a live discussion forum on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7.30pm to 9pm. Topics pages and articles are accessible at any time. Log on through mobile, laptop and tablet.

Samaritans is a 24-hour helpline for anyone who is distressed or experiencing emotional problems 

Childline is a free, private and confidential service

Phone: 0800 1111 

Also available is a 1-2-1 counsellor chat

Further information: websites 

Papyrus provides confidential support and advice to young people struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person through their helpline, HOPELINEUK.

If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned for a young person who might be you can contact HOPELINEUK for confidential support and practical advice.

Opening hours:

  • 10am to 10pm Monday to Friday
  • 2pm to 10pm weekends
  • 2pm to 10pm Bank Holidays

Invictus Trust – Mental Health Portal information for young people on depression, anxiety and self-harm.

Selfharm UK help and advice on about self-harm, including eating disorders.

Stem4 Calm App helps manage the urge to self-harm.

The Mix essential support with looking after your on-line mental health for under 25s.

Other resources

Ways to wellbeing The Children’s Society have put these ‘five ways to well-being for children’ on a set of postcards as a reminder of the things that children can do to support their own wellbeing. 

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