1.  Why safeguarding children and vulnerable adults is important

Children are less visible in their communities during the coronavirus pandemic because their social contact is limited by the Government’s ‘stay at home’ policy. There has been a 40% drop in referrals to Cumbria’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub during ‘lockdown’. This indicates that it is likely that signs of child abuse or neglect are being missed. Therefore the Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership (CSCP) is seeking raise public awareness of the need to be vigilant about safeguarding children during the Corvid-19 outbreak.

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, and our obligation to safeguard children and vulnerable adults continues to be important during the coronavirus outbreak.

2.  What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding is required when children, young people and vulnerable adults show signs of physical or psychological abuse and/or neglect and need outside help to protect their health, well-being.

Children and adults may be abused in any setting and they may be abused by another child or by an adult. Abuse can happen to anyone. It’s not always visible and it’s often not spoken about.

*There are 4 types of child abuse – neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.

*There are 9 types of abuse for adults at risk – physical abuse, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or acts of omission, self-neglect, psychological or emotional abuse, financial or material abuse, modern slavery and discriminatory abuse.

3.  If you see evidence of child (up to 18 years) or vulnerable adult abuse or neglect – report it!

Everyone has a shared responsibility for the welfare of children and adults in our therefore it is important that individuals report any concerns that they have about the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.

4.  Reporting suspected cases of child or vulnerable adult abuse

If you are worried about a child, young person or adult you may know them well enough to talk to them, listen calmly and, if your fears are confirmed, reassure them that it’s not their fault and encourage them to tell you what’s happened. If you have serious concerns about the person’s wellbeing and it is not practical speak to the child or vulnerable adult, it is important that you tell someone about your concerns.

If you believe a person to be at immediate risk of serious harm or in need of emergency medical attention call the emergency services on 999

For children call Cumbria Safeguarding Hub on 0333 2401727

For adults contact Cumbria County Council Adult Services on:

Allerdale and Copeland – 0300 303 3589

Carlisle and Eden – 0300 303 3249

Furness and South Lakes – 0300 303 2704

Out of hours – 01228 526690

*A summary of the types of abuse that you might notice


This is the most common type of abuse and means that a parent or carer is failing to meet the basic needs of a person. Common indicators of neglect include:

  • Poor appearance and hygiene, smelly, dirty, unwashed, not wearing suitable clothes for the weather.
  • Being hungry and not being given food.
  • Having untreated health problems, such as nappy rash, tooth ache, eczema, head lice and untreated injuries.

Physical Abuse

It’s important to remember that physical abuse is intentionally causing physical harm to a person. It can also include making up the symptoms of a child’s illness or, causing a child to become unwell. Common indicators of physical abuse include:

  • Unexplained injuries or regular visits to A & E
  • Bruising, bites, cigarette burns or scalds.

Sexual Abuse

Occurs when a person is forced or tricked into sexual activities. They might not understand that what’s happening is abuse or that it’s wrong and they might be afraid to tell someone. Sexual abuse can happen anywhere; it can happen in person or online. Common indicators of sexual abuse include:

  • Being forced to engage in sexual activities or
  • conversations online or through a smart phone.
  • Making a child or adult at risk of harm; watch, view or share sexual images of themselves or someone else.
  • Showing a child or adult at risk of harm; pornography.
  • Rape, sexual assault or an indecent assault of an adult or child.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is any type of abuse that involves deliberately trying to scare, humiliate, isolate or ignore a person. Common indicators of emotional abuse include:

  • Threatening behaviour, shouting or calling someone names.
  • Exposing a someone to upsetting situations, like domestic abuse or drug taking.
  • Not showing any emotion when interacting with a child.
  • An air of silence when a particular person is present.

Domestic Abuse

This is controlling or threatening behaviour between partners or family members. Men and women can be victims of domestic abuse and it can be very harmful for children to witness it. Common indicators of domestic abuse include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling that the abuse is their fault when it is not
  • Physical evidence of violence such as bruising, cuts, broken bones
  • Verbal abuse and humiliation in front of others
  • Fear of outside intervention
  • Damage to home or property
  • Isolation – not seeing friends and family
  • Limited access to money

Financial or material abuse

This includes theft, fraud or scamming. Common indicators of financial or material abuse include:

  • Unexplained lack of money.
  • Another person being in control of their bank cards and spending.

Modern Slavery

Adults and children are forced to work – through coercion, control or physical threat. They are often trapped and controlled by an ’employer’, through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse. Common indicators of modern slavery include:

  • Signs of physical or emotional abuse
  • Appearing to be malnourished, unkempt or withdrawn
  • Isolation from the community, seeming under the control or influence of others
  • Living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation and or living and working at the same address
  • Lack of personal effects or identification documents
  • Always wearing the same clothes
  • Avoidance of eye contact, appearing frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers
  • Fear of law enforcers

Discriminatory Abuse

Unequal treatment based on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex or sexual orientation. Common indicators of discriminatory abuse include:

  • The person appears to be withdrawn and isolated.
  • The person is regularly harassed or insulted.

Organisational or Institutional Abuse including neglect and acts of omission

This includes neglect and poor standards of care which are provided by an organisation and can happen in a care home, hospital or in someone’s own home. It also includes failure to provide or allow access to food, shelter, clothing, heating, stimulation and activity, personal or medical care or providing care that a person dislikes due to religious, cultural beliefs. Common indicators of organisational or institutional abuse and neglect and/or acts of omission include:

  • Few social activities.
  • The basic needs not being met, such as food, drink and clean clothing.
  • People being hungry and dehydrated.
  • Not receiving the correct medication or treatment.
  • Malnutrition and not receiving the correct levels of food and drink.
  • Untreated medical problems.
  • Bed sores.
  • Over-use of medicines to sedate.


Lack of self-care to an extent that it threatens personal health and safety. Common indicators of self-neglect include:

  • Very poor personal hygiene and unkempt appearance.
  • Lack of essential food, clothing or shelter.
  • Malnutrition and/or dehydration.
  • Living in squalid or unsanitary conditions.
  • Hoarding.
  • Collecting a large number of animals in inappropriate conditions.
  • Non-compliance with health or care services.
Safeguarding Children when Coronavirus restrictions are in place