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Help if you’re accused of abusing a child

This advice applies to Wales

If you’re accused of child abuse, it’s very important to get advice about what to do. There are a number of specialist organisations that you could contact. This page tells you more.

If the police are involved

You may be someone who is being investigated or prosecuted for offences associated with child abuse. Whether you are accused rightly or wrongly, it’s very important for you to get legal advice. You might get legal aid.

You should be aware that, when deciding whether or not to prosecute a case of child abuse, all relevant background issues will be investigated by the police, including:

  • police records and intelligence
  • previous allegations of abuse, even if no prosecution resulted,
  • your association with other people.

There have been a number of cases where families were accused of physically abusing young children with broken bones, and it was later found that these babies had vitamin D deficiency which caused brittle bone syndrome. You will need specialist medical advice if you're accused of physical abuse in cases like this.

If the local authority is involved

If the local authority child protection team is already involved with your child, you need to remember that their aim is to do what is in the child's best interests. If you want this, there’s a very good chance you can work with the social workers to protect the child. There will be very serious consequences for both the child and yourself if the abuse continues. If the local authority child protection team is involved, it’s very important for you to get legal advice from a specialist solicitor.

The local authority may decide that a child isn’t at risk of significant harm but instead is a child in need, that is, the family needs support to protect the well-being of the child. They have a duty to provide family support services in these cases. If you contact the local authority about the abuse, the family may be entitled to these support services.

If you’re concerned that you might be abusing a child

Even if no one has accused you, you may be concerned you might be abusing a child. For example you:

  • may have an addiction problem which means you’re neglecting your child’s needs
  • may find it difficult to control your anger and you’re being violent to your child
  • may be struggling with sexual thoughts about children
  • know you’re touching children inappropriately
  • have been looking at child pornography online.

In these situations, it’s very important to get help. There are several specialist organisations that could give support and advice about the right thing to do. You need to be aware that if they think that the child is in danger, they may have a duty to report the concerns to the local authority or to the police.

If you’re in need of protection yourself

If you’re abusing a child, you may also be in need of protection yourself. For example, you may also being abused by someone else or suffering domestic abuse. Or you may need support because you were abused as a child. A young person under the age of 18 who is abusing someone else may be assessed as a child in need. In these situations, it’s very important for you to get support from a specialist organisation or from the local authority.

Next steps

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