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Advice for Parents, Carers and the Public


Safeguarding is Everyone's Business. If you have a concern about a child, don't ignore it, report it. This page is to help you if you have any concerns about a child as a parent or carer and to point you in the right direction if you need any help or advice. 

Are you concerned about a child or would you like advice on accessing help for your own family?

Safeguarding is Everyone's Business. If you have a concerns about a child, don't ignore it, report it.

Would you know what do do if a child discloses a safeguarding concern to you?  We have produced useful guidance on dealing with a disclosure to help assist you.

There are a number of different types of child abuse.  

  • Emotional Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Neglect

The CYSCP Child Abuse - definitions and signs page has useful information which may help you if you are unsure.


Allegations against childcare professionals - advice

The CYSCP have produced guidance to give an explanation of the process, along with information about appropriate support and guidance that will be followed if you are faced with an allegation of abuse.

Advice and Guidance on Child Protection Conferences

The links below are designed to provide parents with advice when attending child protection conference.

Child Protection Conferences - a guide for parents

Supporting a parent at a conference

Understanding the terms used

Making a complaint about a conference

CYSCP Coronavirus page - Parents and Carers

The Parents and Carers Coronavirus page contains useful resources in one place.

Children's Clubs

If your child or a child you care for is joining an activity club, you may have some safeguarding questions for them.  Attached are some examples of the types of questions you may wish to ask.

The NSPCC also has advice on what to look for in a children's sports club.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is more than just violence

Domestic abuse is more than just violence and is defined by the Government as ‘…any violence between current or former partners in an intimate relationship, wherever and whenever the violence occurs. The violence may include physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse’

Children are affected by domestic abuse even when they have not been physically hurt.

The research shows that 90% of children living in a domestic abusive household witness abuse directly or are in the next room. Although there is always the risk of a child being physically harmed by getting caught up in the parental/carers violence, it recognised that witnessing domestic abuse also harms children.

Children who experience domestic abuse are affected by the fear and distress of their parents. Although they may not always show signs of upset their confidence and self-esteem may be affected and they can develop problems in their educational, physical, and emotional development.

Protecting children from the harm of domestic abuse means taking action to protect yourself. You may worry that seeking help means your children will be taken into care. This is very rare and only happens in the most serious cases. Try talking to your children about how they feel, you may be suprised.

Domestic abuse is never the fault of the victim!

If you are an adult experiencing domestic abuse you may feel confused by a mix of feelings including, isolation, fear, guilt and a belief that the abuse in some way is your fault. You may also feel that you can change the person who is being abusive or that if you change something you are doing the abuse will stop.

The responsibility for domestic abuse rests 100% with the abuser and in our experience domestic abuse when action is taken to stop the abuse. Sometimes this can happen when the abuser recognises that what they are doing is wrong and take real steps to change but importantly they cannot do it with specialist help. Often abuse will only stop when the victims takes steps to remove themselves from the abuse.

Taking action to stop abuse is not easy and maybe one of the most difficult decisions you have had to make. You may fear the loss of your home, income, and friends or may still feel that you love the person who is harming you. You may also fear what will happen if you decide to leave or tell someone about what is happening. Remember – you are not alone and these feelings are normal.

If you are being affected by domestic abuse – seek help

If you are affected by domestic abuse, either as a child, a victim, or a perpetrator, you are not alone and there are services, in York and nationally, that can help. Please contact any of the services listed on the Domestic Abuse resources page for help.

Educating your child at home - Elective Home Education

If you are considering educating your child at home then this leaflet produced by City of York Council may assist with any queries or questions you may have.


Worried about your child?

Child sexual exploitation can be hard to detect and abusers are very clever in their manipulation. Some young people won’t even be aware that it is happening to them.

It’s not always easy to know what our children are up to or if anything is bothering them, but any combination of these tell-tale signs is a strong indicator that something is wrong and you should get help.

  • Bruising on their arms or body
  • Regularly using drugs or drinking alcohol
  • Mood swings, aggression towards others
  • Truancy or a drop in performance at school
  • Self-harm – e.g. cutting or eating disorders
  • Change in appearance, or borrowing clothes from others
  • Always tired
  • Unexplained relationships with older people
  • Staying out late, not returning home
  • They have unexplained gifts, expensive clothes, mobile phones
  • Unexplained money, frequently taking part in activities requiring money

Teach them

Teach your children about healthy relationships. Talk through strategies to help them protect themselves if they find themselves in difficult situations. Help them learn how to keep safe.

PACE – Parents against child sexual exploitation

Pace works alongside parents and carers of children who are – or are at risk of being – sexually exploited by perpetrators external to the family. They offer guidance and training to professionals on how child sexual exploitation affects the whole family.


It's not okay - Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation is NEVER okay. For support or if you’re concerned that a child has been sexually abused please contact the NSPCC 24 hour helpline Tel: 0808 800 5000 or email: If a child is at immediate risk of harm call 999.

Talk PANTS and you've got it covered

  • Privates are private
  • Always remember your body belongs to you
  • No means no
  • Talk about secrets that upset you
  • Speak up, someone can help

The "It’s not ok" campaign took place during 2015/16 as a joint initiative between CYSCP, NSPCC and York St John University to raise awareness of Child Sexual Abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation across the city with public and professionals. The materials created during the campaign are still used in schools and the campaign was nationally acclaimed.  The It’s Not Ok play and workshop have now been turned into new digital resources for secondary schools, community groups and practitioners. You can find the free resources here:

There is more advice with regards to Exploitation available on the Children and Young People's webpage which includes information on how to 'get help' and how to help  'keep them safe' and the Professionals webpage.

ICON:  The 'Babes Cry, You Can Cope' programme

ICON – Babies Cry, You Can Cope programme supports parents and carers manage normal infant crying and to prevent abusive head trauma injuries to babies caused by shaking, also referred to as ‘shaken baby syndrome’.

ICON is an evidenced-based programme designed to help parents and carers understand the normal crying pattern of young infants and to help them develop successful coping mechanisms to deal with this.

The ICON programme delivers four simple messages before the birth and in the first few months of a baby’s life:

 I – Infant crying is normal;

C – Comforting methods can help;

O – It’s OK to walk away;

N – Never, ever shake a baby.

These ICON messages have been demonstrated to help parents and carers manage the stresses which can be caused by normal infant crying. Midwives, Health Visitors and other professionals across the region have developed ICON expertise to help give parents and carers the tools they need to help keep their babies safe.

The North Yorkshire and York ICON programme is funded and supported by local partners including NHS commissioners, NHS provider organisations and Public Health commissioners. This system-wide regional approach will ensure consistent and sustained messaging for parents and carers about infant crying.

The Clinical Commissioning Groups’ Safeguarding Children Team said “It is absolutely normal for babies to cry, and sometimes this can increase over the first few months before subsiding. We know that some parents and carers can get frustrated by this and we want to provide all the support we can to help them.

“Building on successes elsewhere in England, we are introducing ‘ICON’ across North Yorkshire and York to provide a consistent and sustained approach to providing parents and carers tools and interventions to prevent behaviours which can results in abusive head trauma and help them keep their babies safe.”

This programme is being implemented in partnership by:

  1. Airedale Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  2. City of York Healthy Child Service
  3. Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust
  4. NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group
  5. NHS Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group
  6. NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group
  7. NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group
  8. North Yorkshire Healthy Child Service
  9. South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  10. York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

More information and resources to support the ICON programme are available on the dedicated ICON website at

The ICON leaflet is also available to download.

Further video's and resources are also available on the ICON website.

Further resources

The North Yorkshire and York Child Death Overview Panel has created a new Sudden and Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) Prevention One Minute Guide for Professionals, please check it out and share with your colleagues.

The CYSCP and NYSCP  are always looking to develop new resources to engage parents and carers.  Further information is available on the NYSCP website including a Sudden Death in Infancy (SUDI),  and Safer Sleep for Babies with lots of useful information and resources.


Internet Safety and staying safe online

The Internet can contain material and websites  that are inappropriate for children and young people; promote racial, or other hate ideologies; and, can also provide an opportunity for abusers to target, contact and ultimately abuse children and young people. It is important that professionals are aware of the dangers and are able to direct and support young people and their parents/carers in safe use of Internet based services.   

Please visit the Internet Safety webpage and Staying Safe Online -  Young Persons Social Media Guide for further information.

Looking after someone else's child?

  • Is your child living with another family?
  • Is another family’s child living with you?

This is called Private Fostering.  Private Fostering is a private arrangement made by a child’s parent (or someone with parental responsibility) for the child to live with someone who is not a close relative (grandparent, sibling, biological uncle or aunt, or step-parent by marriage or civil partnership.  The Local Authority need to be made aware of these arrangements. 


Parental Separation and Divorce


Many children in Britain will experience the separation and divorce of their parents by the time they are 16.

When the parents' relationship breaks down, it is usually painful for everyone in the family. It's very important to try to minimise the stress and bitterness that can result, particularly when children are involved. It is easy for parents to be so distracted by their own feelings about the situation that they lose sight of how it may be affecting their children.

Research shows that the children of parents that separate can experience poorer outcomes than other children. However, some of the difficulties can be offset by the way parents deal with the separation.

Good, continuing communication and contact between children and both parents appear especially important in assisting children to adapt. Clear explanations about 'what' is happening and 'why' can help, as can reassurance for younger children that they are not being abandoned and that a parent can still be a parent even if he/she leaves the home to live elsewhere. (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)

Importantly, although experiencing a parental separation can be very upsetting for children, parents can help prevent the experience being traumatic for their children.

So what is meant by trauma?

Traumatic stress is brought about when children cannot adequately express what they are feeling about what is happening for them. Children may often feel anger or fear but are unable to talk about their feelings to either parent maybe because of a divided loyalty or a belief that they won’t be listened to. It is this sense of powerlessness along with the often on going acrimony between their parents that can lead to traumatic stress.

Trauma is determined by the child’s experience of the event, not simply the event itself. Different children in the same family may have a dramatically different emotional reaction to the numerous changes related to divorce. Your attitude shapes your children's attitude. Your words and actions can either expose your children to unnecessary emotional pain or help them develop in positive ways. (

Parental separation is like bereavement and children often find it difficult to cope with the strong emotions that arise from such a loss.

Symptoms of distress following a parental break up can include:
•Behavioural problems
•Lack of concentration
•Falling out with friends
•Low self esteem
•Guilt (thinking it is their fault)
•Increased dependency
•Minor health problems

What can you do?

Advice is always easier to give than to take, especially in the case of a difficult separation. However, the one thing most parents have in common is the love for their children and in not wishing anything to upset and harm them. You may having extremely strong negative and confused feelings towards your ex partner – anger, jealousy, sadness, each of which can feel overwhelming, but it is important to remember that these are your feelings and not those of your child.

Interviews with children around the time of separation show that most wish their parents had stayed together and hope they will get back together. They are likely, in the short term, to experience unhappiness, low self-esteem, problems with behaviour and friendships, and loss of contact with a significant part of their extended family. (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)

Children love both parents and, as the research shows, may wish their parents had stayed together. Making children chose by being negative about your ex partner or expecting them to take sides can cause long term damage. Try and put yourself in their position – the two people you love most in the world, the two people who have been your world, want you to take sides – how would you feel? If you add the fact that children cannot assert themselves like adults and do not easily understand what is happening, you can start to see that they are in a ‘no win’ situation.

The answer then is to remain focussed on what is in your child’s best interest and try not to:
•Argue with your ex partner in front of your children or on the phone.
•Talk with your children about details of your ex partner’s negative behaviour.
•Expect your children to take sides or talk negatively about the other parent
•Use you child as a ‘go between’ or use them as the only means of communication with your ex partner

Parents need to communicate

Ideally, children need both parents and separation when you have children means that there will always be a link to your ex partner through your children. In such circumstances, parents have a choice – you can either maintain the acrimony, with the risks to your children’s and your mental health, or you can find a way of communicating, albeit about the decisions you both need to make about your children.

Remember, help is available (see the links below):

Family mediation is a way of resolving disputes after separation or divorce. In mediation, couples are helped to look for their own solutions to their disputes.

Family mediation is also increasingly being used to solve other types of family problems, such as disputes between a parent and child.

Both parties explain their concerns and needs to each other in the presence of a qualified family mediator.  The mediator is impartial, which means that they are not on anyone's side.  They are there help both parties, unlike a solicitor who only works for one party in each case.  Sometimes the mediator will suggest a way of solving a problem to help them to reach an agreement acceptable to both, but they will never tell either party what to do.

The mediator can give information about law but cannot give anyone advice about what to do. We would recommend that you go to see a solicitor who can give legal advice.  The solicitor can help you before, in between sessions and when agreement has been reached so that you know that whatever agreed to is fair to you.

Relate - Relate for Parents puts the emphasis on the children. If you and your partner are separating Relate can help you to deal with the process positively and learn how best to help the children through the experience. It can help you shield them from negative emotions and plan important contact with the parent who is no longer at home.

Counselling – can take many forms and can be provided to both parents (as with Relate) or individually. Sometimes, the feelings experienced during and following a separation can feel overwhelming and disabling:

•What did I do wrong?
•What’s the point in going on?
•What’s wrong with me?

These feelings can affect your job, your social life and can get in the way of being the parent you want to be. If this is how you feel you may want someone to talk to who will listen, someone who will not make judgments about you. This is where counseling can help. 

If you would like more advice on how to safeguard children when dealing with separation and divorce please click on the following links:

NSPCC Children and parental separation
Relateline 0845 130 4010 (Monday - Friday, 9.30am-4.30pm) Telephone helpline service from Relate. Users can talk to an experienced Relate counsellor for up to 20 minutes and all calls are confidential.
Parentline 0808 000 2222 Free, confidential 24-hour helpline for parents and carers.
Helpguide - a free resource for a range of health issues with useful advice for parents experiencing separation (American)

Useful child safeguarding links

The Parents and Carers links webpage contains useful links to other websites and information.

Parent Info provides support and advice to parents, with contributions from the leading experts and organisations in matters related to young people and families in a digital world.