Safeguarding Sussex Week: Emotional Abuse

This year’s Learning Together week runs from Monday 27 November -Friday 1 December 2017 and there will be a variety of events to spotlight and debate some of the most important issues in our city which affect individuals, their families and the wider community. This year the Safeguarding Week is being held in conjunction with our partners from East & West Sussex as well as Brighton & Hove Safeguarding Adults Board and the Safe in the City Partnership Board

You can view the Brighton & Hove programme here and the face to face events will provide a space for professionals to explore their responsibilities in their everyday work, and reflect on their contribution to keeping people safe and well.

If you cannot attend one of our events you may wish to make some time to complete some eLearning to increase your safeguarding knowledge, or you may want to use one of our Practice Point Scenarios to start discussion in your team meetings, or reflect on the implications for your practice after reading our Briefing for Staff: W&X SCR. 

Throughout the week we will be circulating a series of bite-sized bulletins to give you an appetite for different safeguarding themes, and point you in the direction for further information. Look out for them in your inbox, and follow the week on social media #SafeguardingSussex

Emotional Abuse

Working Together 2015 defines emotional abuse as “The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development”. Emotional abuse may be difficult to recognise, as the signs are usually behavioural and based on observations over time. Emotional Abuse is a significant factor in all forms of abuse, including neglect where a parent may be unresponsive to a child’s basic emotional needs.

When adults are dealing with their own complex issues, such as domestic violence, substance misuse or mental health, they are often unable to grasp the emotionally abusive effect this may have on their children. All professionals working with families should be aware of the indicators of emotional abuse, and consider the child’s lived experience and the impact this on their wellbeing. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

To best support families both children’s services and adult providers need to work holistically and focus on the whole family. Our one day training Mental Health & Children’s Services: Working Together with Families brings together the children’s workforce with adult mental health providers to increase understanding and promote better joint working. Pavilions co-present our session on The Impact of Parental Substance Misuse which also helps frontline practitioners comprehend the service users perspective when involved with services to tackle substance misuse.

Locally we are aware that 52.6% of children on Child Protection plans in Brighton & Hove in 2016-17 had emotional abuse listed as the primary concern. 

Emotional Abuse may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another, and is often a feature in families where there is domestic abuse and violence.  It may also involve serious bullying causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, including bullying and harassment online as well as face to face. This may seriously effect a child’s emotional well being and mental health, and can lead to self harm or suicidal ideation. In the new year we will be launching LSCB training on Safeguarding Adolescents which will look at some of these issues as well as the emerging problem of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE). We also run a half day session in association with Safety Net on Safeguarding in a Digital Age which considers some of the challenges children face in the online world.


LSCB strategic aims: 

The LSCB and our partner agencies are committed to safeguarding children from all types of abuse, and ensuing the best outcomes for them.

The Board regularly receives updates from Public Health and CCG Commissioners on the delivery of mental health services for children and young people, and will hear more about the transformation plan at our December meeting. Findings from our local Learning Reviews has fed into this work, and we have closely followed the development of the Emotional Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework for Schools, 

Early Help, Pathways, Thresholds and Assessments is a priority area of the LSCB Business Plan, and we are currently refreshing our Threshold Document and the city’s Early Help Strategy to ensure that we are helping the right children at the right time. We plan to have a consultation on the new Whole Family Working Strategy in February 2018 with the revised policy launching in the spring.


Multi-agency training: 


Further Reading:

Pan Sussex Child Protection & Safeguarding Procedures:

Mental Health Services for Children & Young People in Brighton & Hove


Useful websites & contacts:

  • Brighton and Hove Wellbeing Service  To access advice or support around mental health in Brighton & Hove please contact the Community Wellbeing Service 0300 002 0060 (Lines open Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm).
  • – a mental health services directory for young people created by YMCA’s Brighton & Hove Right Here project in partnership with other local groups. This site allows users to search for support, share stories about their own mental health and give feedback on services they have used for others to read. ‘Find Get Give’ also includes resources for parents and carers.
  • Young Minds for advice if you are worried about a young person’s mental health or emotional wellbeing


If you have concerns about a child contact the Front Door for Families on 01273 290400