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Keeping children safe

Patterns of family life vary and there is no single, perfect way to bring up children. Good parenting involves caring for children’s basic needs which includes:

  • keeping them safe
  • showing them warmth and love
  • providing the stimulation needed for their development and to help them achieve their potential
  • providing a stable environment where they experience consistent guidance and boundaries

As a parent, carer, neighbour, or anyone in contact with children and families you may at times have concerns about the welfare of a child. These could be concerns about their development, appearance or behaviour which may indicate signs of abuse. We all have a personal responsibility to notice when a child or young person may be being abused and pass our concerns to someone who can act to protect them.

Where can I get help from?

If you believe that a child or young person is at immediate risk, this should be reported without delay to the police service as a 999 emergency.

If you have concerns about a child that do not require immediate attention you should seek advice from professionals.

Contact the Waltham Forest Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team on:

Phone: 020 8496 2310

  • Monday to Thursday: 9am to 5.15pm
  • Friday 9am to 5pm

Out of hours phone: 020 8496 3000 

Keeping children safe online

Did you know?

  • cyberbullying is now more common than face-to-face bullying among 9 to16 year-olds
  • more than half of parents ask their children for advice about technology

 As a parent or carer, you play a key role in helping your child to stay safe online.

Further information: websites

Internet Matters offers a range of guides providing general information on how to keep children safe in their digital world.

UK Safer Internet Centre offers tips, advice, guides and resources to help keep your child safe online

Parentzone provides support and information to parents, children and schools to help families to navigate the internet safely and confidently. They work with parents, schools, governments and businesses to study, understand and address the impact of emerging technologies on young people. 

Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is where a young person under the age of 18 is encouraged, trapped, forced or coerced into a sexual relationship or situation by an adult.

It often involves the young person being offered something in return for performing sexual acts, such as alcohol, cigarettes, gifts, money, drugs and affection.

Both girls and boys are at risk of sexual exploitation, and it is seriously harmful to children both emotionally and physically. Children and young people often find it very hard to understand or accept that they are being abused through sexual exploitation, and this increases their risk of being exposed to violent assault and life threatening events by those who abuse them.

Things to look out for are:

  • going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • staying out late or overnight with no explanation as to where they have been
  • going places that you know they cannot afford
  • skipping school or being disruptive in class
  • suddenly acquiring expensive gifts such as mobile phones, jewellery – even drugs – and not being able to explain how they came by them
  • having mood swings and changes in temperament
  • noticeable changes in behaviour – becoming secretive, defensive or aggressive when asked about their personal life
  • wearing inappropriate clothing that is too adult or revealing for their age
  • displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviours, such as over familiarity with strangers, dressing in a sexualised manner or sending sexualised images by mobile phone (‘sexting’)
  • getting into trouble with the police
  • bruises, marks on the body, sexually-transmitted diseases, pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse or self-harm
  • repeated phone calls, letters, emails from adults outside the family social circle

Further information: leaflets 

Barnardo’s: Spot the signs

Parents Protect: Helping you protect children and young people from sexual abuse and exploitation

Further information: websites

Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE)

It’s Not Okay

Further information: films

There are a number of short films available from across the UK that you may find helpful to watch as a parent or carer or member of the public.

Know the SignsEmma’s Story – a victim’s perspective of CSE

NSPCC – the story of Jay

Parents – Spot the Signs

My New Friend – the grooming and exploitation of boys and young men

Further information: e-learning

Keep them safe: an interactive CSE learning tool from PACE

Private tuition

Whilst the vast majority of private tutors and centres are reputable and prioritise safeguarding children and young people, as a parent or carer, you still need to take care to make proper checks when hiring their services. 

Checklist for making sure that tutor and tuition centres are suitable and do not pose a risk to your child:

Is this tutor/teacher/centre safe to work with children? Check for DBS, references, qualification certificates, what other people and your children say. Inform your child's school of your intention to provide additional private tutoring.

How will this tutor/teacher/centre respond to my child’s behaviour? It is important for a tutor to meet your child so that you can see if they get on before tutoring. What are the expectations around behaviour?  Are these age-appropriate?

- Does this tutor/teacher/centre understand how to keep my child safe? Remain on the premises when tutoring takes place in your home or in a tuition centre. Ensure that you are able to monitor the work undertaken. Talk to your child about their progress and see their written work.

Looking after somebody else's child

Private fostering is when a child under 16 (18 if they are disabled) is in the care of someone other than their parents or close relative.

Parents and carers must notify the council when agreeing on private fostering.

Professionals working with children have a duty to notify the council of private fostering situations. You should discuss this with the carer and/or parents of the child.

To notify the council of a private fostering arrangement, or to find out more, please contact MASH on:

Phone: 020 8496 2310 

  • Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm
  • Friday 9am to 5pm

Out of hours phone: 020 8496 3000

Email: MASHrequests@walthamforest.gov.uk

Other useful resources

The Children Society has developed a parent’s guide called How to support your child’s well-being which gives some simple tips on how they can encourage children to take part in the activities that could enhance their well-being.

Are you a parent or carer who is concerned about your child? Or perhaps you just want some hints and tips on parenting? MindEd for Families has online advice and information from trusted sources and will help you to understand and identify early issues and best support your child.

Educate Against Hate will provide you with practical information and advice on protecting children from radicalisation and extremism.

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