Child Protection

Understanding what to do to protect children who are at risk of abuse

All children in Scotland have the right to be protected from abuse or neglect. The law around child protection in Scotland is called the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. It covers parental responsibilities and rights, and the duties and powers local public authorities have for supporting and promoting the safety and welfare of children.

Report child abuse

Child abuse is when someone causes (or doesn’t prevent) significant harm to a child.

The abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual. This includes child sexual exploitation, child trafficking, online abuse and witnessing domestic abuse.

It can happen once or over a period of time, and could happen within and outside the family.

Neglect is also child abuse. This is when a parent or carer doesn’t look after a child properly, for example:

  • Failing to meet a child’s basic needs, such as not providing food, a home or supervision appropriate for the child’s age
  • Failing to get medical or mental health care
  • Failing to educate a child or ignoring their special educational needs
  • Failing to provide emotional care.

How to report abuse

As a PA, you have a duty to report any concerns that you may have that a child is being abused or neglected, or if you are worried that they have been abused or neglected in the past or are at risk in the future.

Call 999 to report a crime in progress or if a child or young person is in immediate danger.

Call the police on 101 if you think a crime has been committed.

You can also contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to report the crime anonymously. They’ll pass the information about the crime to the police.

You can report online abuse to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre – there is a link at the bottom of this page.

Get more information about child protection from the Child Protection Scotland website below.

Report child abuse to your local Council

Contact your local council if you think a child or young person is at risk or is being abused or neglected.

Next steps

Take a look at the resources available below to guide you on issues related to child protection in more detail.

Part of
Last Updated
02 February 2024
First Published
02 May 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.