The following provides information and advice on how to protect children and young people from harm.

Safe handling of babies

Rough handling of babies can cause serious injuries. The NSPCC have collected the best advice from professionals, as well as some top tips from parents, to provide you with safe, positive ways of holding and caring for your baby. The handle with care leaflet explains the importance of safe parenting and gives advice on safe ways of holding and caring for a baby. For local help or support, contact your health visitor or children’s centre.


It is important that children learn how to behave and control how they act as they get older and parents have a very important job as role models for their children in helping them to learn how to do this.

Every parent experiences frustration with his or her child and it is at these times that they may resort to smacking. However, this is an outlet for their feelings, rather than a helpful way of parenting a child.

Teaching children from a young age by setting limits and explaining reasons for these limits helps them develop self-discipline. Smacking, which controls your child from the outside, has no long-lasting good effects and there is a thin line between smacking and hitting children.

In England and Wales the law states that  smacking is against the law if it causes bruises, reddening of the skin or mental harm. It is against the law to use an implement to hit a child, for example a belt, or a wooden spoon.

There are a number of more effective ways to deal with your child’s behaviour.  Mother and Baby has further information and advice on positive parenting and the NSPCC have produced a booklet called ‘encouraging better behaviour‘.

Help in managing situations that feel as if they are out of your control is available and your child’s health visitor, teacher or local children’s services can provide useful help and advice.

Bruising to immobile children

The LSCB has provided the following guidance to both professionals and parents to ensure children are protected and that where concerns arise these are taken seriously and thoroughly explored with everyone concerned.

It is difficult to cause bruising to immobile children (those who cannot move around by themselves) during day-to-day activities such as feeding, nappy changing and normal handling. Even where babies fall or get knocked it is unusual for them to bruise (unlike children who are crawling or walking who often get bruises).

If you do notice a bruise that is the result of a fall from the couch, or bed or any other traumatic accident (a tumble out of the car seat, for example), call your baby’s doctor immediately or contact your local hospital’s accident and emergency department (A&E) as they may want to examine them for less obvious injuries.

You should also call the doctor or attend A&E if your baby:

  • bangs their head and has a bruise behind their ear or other signs of a skull fracture
  • has a bruise that doesn’t fade or go away in 14 days
  • is in pain for more than 24 hours
  • has a bruise on a large joint (knee, ankle, elbow, wrist) and is reluctant to use the joint or has difficulty moving his arm or leg
  • has a cut or abrasion and shows signs of infection, such as pus, fever, or increased pain and swelling

In Bracknell Forest all professionals who come across bruising in an immobile child are required to refer the child to a specialist child doctor (paediatrician) as it can be a sign of a health condition, a blood disease or an infection.

The child will also be referred to Children’s Social Care, who will work with the specialist child doctor to decide what further steps, if any, need to be taken. Further help and advice can be found in the information leaflet on about bruising to immobile children.

If you think that a child or young person may be at risk of harm or neglect, please contact Children’s Social Care straight away. For further information see the council’s child protection page.

Children and young people can be at risk of a range of different types of injury and as they develop these risks may change. While most young people require less supervision as they become more independent, it remains important that an appropriate level of supervision remains in place.

Water safety for children and young people

During the school holidays, and in particular in hot weather, increasing numbers of children put themselves at risk of drowning. On average 40 to 50 children drown per year in the UK.

To keep you and your children safe, when you are in, on or beside water, always follow the Water Safety Code and ensure that older children understand the Water Safety Code and learn to spot the dangers.

Water may look safe, but it can still be dangerous. You may be able to swim well in a warm indoor pool, but that does not mean that you will be able to swim in cold water.

The dangers of water include:

  • it is very cold
  • there may be hidden currents
  • it can be difficult to get out (steep slimy banks)
  • it can be deep
  • there may be hidden rubbish such as shopping trolleys and broken glass
  • there are no lifeguards
  • it is difficult to estimate depth
  • it may be polluted and may make you ill

Remember – children of all ages require supervision around water and that very young children must never be allowed near water without an adult being with them at all times.

Further advice can be found in the RoSPA water safety for children and young people leaflet.

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