In an emergency contact the police on telephone number 999

If you've got a problem or are worried about someone, it can be hard to know what to do. You don't have to cope on your own. You have the right to grow up safe from people hurting you.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse is when you or another child or young person is being harmed or isn't being looked after properly.

Remember, being abused is never your choice and never your fault.  Child abuse is never right. Here are some things to look out for:

  • not being fed
  • being continuously criticised, ignored or humiliated
  • being asked to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable
  • being frightened when left alone without an adult to look after you
  • being hit, kicked or punched
  • being sexually abused (this can include inappropriate sexual behaviour, language or touching)

What should I do?

You should talk to someone, for example an adult who you trust and you know will try to help you. Who you talk to will depend on the adult who is causing you concern.

You may find it difficult to tell someone about how you feel. Perhaps you will feel embarrassed or worried about what might happen. Although it might be difficult, it is important that you talk to someone. If the person you speak to does not take you seriously, speak to someone else.

You can talk to:

  • your parent or carer
  • a relative
  • a neighbour or friend
  • a professional such as a teacher, school nurse, youth worker, health visitor, social worker, police officer or children's counsellor

What happens next

Whoever you speak to should listen and decide the best way to help. The person you speak to cannot always keep what you say private, as they will probably need to share what you have said with someone else who has more experience of keeping children safe. It may take time to involve the necessary people and to decide the best action to take. You should be involved in any decisions as much as possible and told what will happen next.

Drugs and alcohol misuse

You can be significantly harmed by misuse of drugs and alcohol by others including adult family members. There is a list of organisations who can give information and advice in the Merton Family Services Directory.

Staying safe online

Online safety NSPCC website

Are you living away from home and under 16 years (or under 18 years if disabled)?

If you are living away from your parents for more than 28 days and you are not cared for by a close relative, then you may be a privately fostered child.

The law says that children in these situations must be visited by a social worker regularly to check that they are safe and well cared for.

Information for privately f​ostered children is available on the somebody else's child website.

Child employment

Are you at school and thinking about getting a job?  For information on your rights and the law regarding age restrictions, hours that children can work and the jobs they can and can't do, go to our ​Child Employment​ page.

Where to go for help

ChildLine is the free confidential helpline for children and young people in the UK. Call 0800 1111.

  • The NSPCC has a helpline 0808 800 5000 for children and young people, and a website with helpful advice about what to do if you are worried or scared.
  • To speak with a social worker, phone: 020 8545 4226 or
    020 8770 5000 (out of hours). You can also email mash@merton.gov.uk.