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It can sometimes be difficult to know what to do for the best. If you find out a child is being harmed, you may be thinking that perhaps the child is really alright. You don't want to provoke someone and make matters worse for the child. Perhaps you're concerned the family might be broken up and the children put in care (although this actually rarely happens). You may think the problem will resolve itself. And you may not know where to go for help. It may seem the easiest thing to do is to do nothing. But please don't. Trust your own judgement. It is important that you act.

If you are worried that a child or young person is at risk of abuse or neglect, please contact Children's Social Care straight away. 

If you are worried that a child may be at risk of neglect or abuse please contact:

MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) Team
Children, Schools and Families Department
12th Floor, Merton Civic Centre
London Road
Morden
SM4 5DX

Telephone (office hours): 020 8545 4226 or 020 8545 4227

Out of hours: 020 8770 5000

Fax: 020 8545 4204

You do not have to give your name and your conversation will be treated confidentially.

You may also contact us by email: mash@merton.gov.uk

Or in an emergency contact the police by telephone on 999.

What will happen if I contact Children's Social Care?

You should always report your concerns, even if the person you suspect is abusing or neglecting a child is your partner, a member of your own family or someone you know well. When you contact Children's Social Care you will be asked to describe what it is that you are concerned about and provide as much information as you can about the children such as their names, dates of birth, address, school or nursery attended, ethnicity and details about their parents or carers. 

We know that sometimes people reporting concerns do not know all these details but in order to identify the children you are concerned about some basic information is required such as approximate ages of the children and their address or street they live in. We will use this information to check our  database to see if the children are already known to us.  This information is confidential so we will not be able to tell you whether the children are already known. However, we want to know what is worrying you, whether other people are worried and what you have done, if anything, to address your concerns with the child's parents or carers. The information you provide will be written down and passed to the Duty Manager who will then decide what action needs to be taken.

Will the child's parent be told who contacted a social worker?

You don't have to give your name. It does, however, make it easier for everyone involved if you give us your contact details so we can get back to you for more information. We will tell the parent or carer if the person concerned about a child is a professional person, like a doctor or a teacher.

What happens next?

A social worker will go and talk to the parent or carer to find out if the information you gave us is true, and whether the family needs any help or support. They will also want to see the child and talk to the child alone (if they are old enough to understand). If the social worker thinks the child is at risk they will discuss with the parents what will need to happen to make them safe. If the social worker decides that the child is at risk of abuse or neglect, they will organise a Child Protection Conference to draw up a plan of how to protect the child. The plan will involve the professionals who know the child, the child's parents, and often their immediate family.

Our aim is to keep families together and we nearly always succeed in doing this. A very small number of children each year need to be separated from their parents to ensure they are kept safe. Usually these children return home once their care and safety can be guaranteed.

Will the police and other agencies be involved?

If a crime has been committed against a child, the police will also be involved. They will work with the social worker so together they can decide the best way to keep the child safe from harm. Children's Social Care staff work closely with other agencies that work with children and their families. We believe it is very important to work together to protect children from harm and all these partner agencies work to the same procedures and guidelines, and keep in close contact.

Will I be told what happens to the child and family?

It is very unlikely that you will be given any information about the action taken and what happens to the child and their family. It is important to respect everyone's right to privacy. However, the social worker will reassure you that your comments have been taken seriously and that action will be taken.

What should I do if I am worried that I might harm my own child?

Many parents find it hard to cope at times. If you ever feel that you may harm your own child you should talk to someone about it. You can contact Children's Social Care and speak to a social worker, or speak to a health visitor, your family doctor or any professional that you know. They will try to help you to resolve the problem. Remember, you won't be the first person to feel this way and talking to someone can really help.

Some key tips about safe parenting:

  • Try to understand the seriousness and consequences of child abuse.
  • Learn about healthy child development and safe parenting.  
  • Listen to children – try to understand what they're saying and doing, and why.
  • Know what goes on in your child's world (such as their school, nursery, or youth club) and how issues such as bullying are dealt with.
  • Find someone to turn to if you're under stress.
  • Don't cross the line and hurt your child. Take alternative actions – for example, "count to ten and think again".

Useful advice for parents

Parenting advice and support (Family Services Directory)

If you are worried that a child may be at risk of neglect or abuse please contact:

MASH* Team
Children, Schools and Families Department
12th Floor, Merton Civic Centre
London Road
Morden
SM4 5DX

Telephone: 020 8545 4226 or 020 8545 4227

Out of hours: 020 8770 5000

Fax: 020 8545 4204

You do not have to give your name and your conversation will be treated confidentially.

You may also contact us by email: mash@merton.gov.uk

Or in an emergency contact the police by telephone on 999

NSPCC Freephone Child Protection Helpline:

0808 800 5000

Merton Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB)

Children can only be safeguarded properly if agencies work well together. That means ensuring that services are properly planned, delivered and monitored in the borough. The core objectives of the MSCB are to co-ordinate local work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and ensure the effectiveness of that work.

The Board has an independent chair​. Much of the detailed work is done through various sub-committees and working groups.

If you have any enquiry about the Merton Safeguarding Children Board please phone 020 8545 4866 or email mertonlscb@merton.gov.uk.