Skip to main content

Hidden Harm

    Children may be suffering from the effects of what is known as ‘hidden harm’ if they live with parents or carers who are misusing drugs or alcohol.  Children in these situations may be acting as young carers or they may be subjected to any of the forms of abuse described above.

    The combination of parental mental health, substance misuse and domestic abuse is known as the ‘Toxic Trio’ and is a heightened risk factor.  Children of parents who are affected by the toxic trio are at an increased risk of significant harm.

    National research on lessons to be learnt from serious case reviews of child deaths and serious injuries consistently highlights that domestic abuse, substance misuse (alcohol and drugs) and adult mental health poses a potential or known risk to the welfare and safety of children.

    Local serious case review findings support this national learning and have resulted in this area of work being an identified priority for the SSCB (Staffordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board).  Staffordshire’s Domestic Abuse Partnership has the lead for driving the domestic abuse safety agenda forward. A new multi-agency forum has been established in respect of Hidden Harm (the impact of parental substance misuse on children).

    Separate policies and procedures for children living with parents who misuse substances and those who are deemed as young carers can be found on the SSCB website.

    How to report a concern:-

    Points of Contact for the general public:-

    First Response (Staffordshire County Council) on 0800 131 3126.

    Alternatively call Staffordshire Police Central Referrals Unit on 101 and ask for the MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) or email

    If you believe a child or young person is in immediate danger or in need of medical attention ring 999.

    Stafford Borough Council staff - during office hours:-

    Tracy Redpath - Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer - 01785 619195

    Jan Silvester - Deputy Designated Safeguarding Officer - 01785 619477

    Out of office hours and if Designated Officers are not available:-

    Concerns about a Child:-

    First Response Team (FRT) - 0800 1313 126 (between 8.00 am and 5.30 pm and 4.30 pm on a Friday) or via a brief email

    Outside of 8.00 am and 5.30 pm

    Emergency Duty Service (EDS) - 0845 6042 886

    Alternatively you can contact Staffordshire Police Central Referral Unit on 101 or Dial 999 in an emergency

    Concerns about an Adult:-

    Vulnerable Adult Referral 0845 604 2719

    Alternatively you can contact Staffordshire Police Central Referral Unit on 101 or Dial 999 in an emergency

    A to Z of Services