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  • ChildLine 0800 1111
  • Police Scotland 101
  • Social Work 0300 300 1199
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What is abuse?


Neglect is where the person who is meant to look after a child or young person regularly and continuously fails to meet their basic physical and/or emotional needs so that the child or young person’s health or development is seriously harmed.

Neglect involves failing to:

  • provide adequate food, drinks, shelter and clothing
  • protect a child from physical harm or danger
  • provide appropriate medical care or treatment
  • respond to a child’s basic emotional needs.

Many children and young people live in homes where their parents have problematic or dependent drug or alcohol use. This can make life very hard for their children and is a major cause of neglect. Sometimes their parents or carers aren’t able to get them up for school, mealtimes can get missed and everyone ends up keeping late hours.

When adults regularly drink too much or take drugs this can lead to problematic or dependent drug or alcohol use. This can affect children and young people in a number of ways. Because of this children and young people may become anxious about their parents behaviour in relation to their drug or alcohol use. It may be difficult for them to get to school on time, to go every day and to do well. It may also make it hard to make friends and could also lead to children being bullied.

Some children also have to do tasks at home which adults would normally do like:

  • Washing clothes
  • Cooking
  • Looking after younger brothers or sisters.
  • If you are worried about a child or young person you can call Social Work on 0300 300 1199 or Police Scotland on 101.

What if a child or young person is looking after their mum or dad?

Being a young carer does not necessarily mean that a child or young person is being neglected – there may still be a warm, loving, supportive bond within the family. However, it is important that young carers are getting support from outside the family to cope with their extra responsibilities if they need it. If you are worried you can encourage them to ask for support. For more information about the support available to young carers visit http://www.renfrewshirecarers.org.uk/.

Renfrewshire Carers Centre can be contacted on 0141 887 3643.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is causing a child pain or injury that harms them. Physical abuse may involve:

  • Hitting
  • Shaking
  • Throwing
  • Poisoning
  • Burning or scalding
  • Drowning or suffocating.

Physical harm can also be caused if a parent or carer pretends a child is ill or deliberately does something to them to cause the symptoms of an illness.

Female genital mutilation, female circumcision or female genital cutting (FGM)

It is against the law to do Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting in Scotland. It is also against the law to take someone who normally lives in Scotland to another country to have FGM done to them.

For more information about FGM go to http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/1032/0097194.pdf

If you are worried about a child or young person you can contact Social Work on 0300 300 1199. If you think a child or young person is in immediate danger you should contact Police Scotland on 999.


Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is:

  • Not providing a child with love and affection
  • Ignoring the child
  • Constantly threatening and criticising them
  • Making the child feel that they are worthless
  • Having adult expectations of a child that they can’t hope to match because they are too young, too small or too immature
  • Making a child feel frightened or that they are constantly in danger.

It is also emotional abuse to make a child feel that their only value lies in how they please someone else.

Some level of emotional abuse is present in all types of ill treatment of a child but it can also happen on its own.

If you are worried about a child or young person you can contact Social Work on 0300 300 1199 or Police Scotland on 101.


Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is anything that involves a child in any activity for the sexual pleasure of another person.

Sexual abuse includes:

  • Forcing or persuading a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening
  • Making children look at pornography or people having sex
  • Using children to make pornography
  • Using sexually explicit language towards a child
  • Flashing at a child or an adult exposing their private parts to a child
  • Encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

You can teach your child the Underwear Rule and help protect them from abuse – without using scary words or mentioning sex. The NSPCC have developed a simple guide for parents and a child-friendly version.



If you are worried about a child or young person you can contact Social Work on 0300 300 1199 or Police Scotland on 101.



Grooming is the name given to behaviours used by some adults to target and prepare children and young people for sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. One of the problems for professionals and for parents is that the signs of grooming may be difficult to recognise. Initially children and young people may not recognise that they are being groomed and may see these relationships as positive.

Grooming can happen online and face to face. It can happen when adults have access to children and the opportunity to build relationships with them in real life or on line so that they can isolate and abuse them.

They can target areas where children and young people are without much adult supervision – for example, shopping centres, cafes, takeaways, bus or train stations, parks, playgrounds and taxi ranks.

With growing access to the internet, predators are able to make contact with children and young people with complete anonymity or using a false identity / age.

Children and young people who have been groomed may believe that the relationship is positive and find it hard to think of the person in a negative way. The process of being groomed breaks down boundaries and children and young people can become confused by the relationship. They may not even recognise that they have been harmed or exploited. Even though their choices were limited and they were under a lot of pressure, they can believe they did it voluntarily. It can take a long time for children and young people to realise what has happened.

If you are worried about a child or young person you can contact Social Work on 0300 300 1199. If you think a child is in immediate danger you should call Police Scotland on 999.

More information about grooming can be found on the Women’s Support Project website


If you are worried about a child or young person you can contact Social Work on 0300 300 1199 or Police Scotland on 101.

Domestic abuse

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is when abuse and harmful behaviour is carried out by a partner or ex-partner.

  • In most cases it is experienced by women and children.
  • Domestic abuse can affect both males and females and can also happen in same sex relationships.
  • It can be physical, psychological or sexual. 
  • This includes punishment, control, threats, keeping back money, and always putting someone down.

Domestic abuse doesn't always involve physical violence. Abuse within a relationship is any act that attempts to control the thoughts, feelings or actions of another person. Abuse is when someone says or does something to hurt , scare or threaten someone else in order to have control of them. Anyone can be at risk.

Domestic abuse can leave you feeling lonely, sad scared, confused, angry, frightened, worried and upset.

Who can help?

If you're in a violent relationship and need practical help you should contact the Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 027 1234 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). It is a freephone number which will not show up on telephone bills. The site is designed so that other people who use your computer will find it hard to tell that you've been on the site.

There's lots of useful information on the Scottish Women's Aid website. You can watch clips from a DVD with young people talking about what it's like to live with domestic abuse. Alternatively you can call Renfrewshire Women's Aid on 0141 561 7030.

You can call the Women’s Aid National Helpline on 0808 2000 247 (24 hours, 7 days a week) and they can provide details of local services near you which provide refuges, info and support. The Hide Out section of the website is just for young people.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to provide further help and your local social work department can assist if there are children involved. To find your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau go to the Citizens Advice Scotland website (it has a town/ postcode search).

If you are a young woman in a violent and/or abusive relationship, or are affected by domestic violence, you can phone the Women's Support Project on 0141 552 2221 or have a look at the Women's Support Project website.

Who to Call

If you are unhappy or worried about something speak to your teacher or an adult that you trust.

  • ChildLine0800 1111
  • Police Scotland101
  • Social Work0300 300 1199
  • Social Work (Out Of Hours)0300 343 1505
  • NSPCC Helpline0800 800 5000