Legislation in Safeguarding Children

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There are so many different legislations that are continuously being reviewed, updated and revoked that they are divided into two main categories, Civil law and Criminal law and each it then divided again. Civil law is divided into public and private law. Public law put policies in place to minimise the risk of children coming into harm and what to do if they are at risk. Private laws deal with family proceedings such as divorce and contact. Criminal law deal with people who have offended, or are at risk of offending against children. Some Acts may cross each other and include provisions for both civil and criminal laws to insure the optimum protection for any children involved.

The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 is one of the older child protection legislations that is still in force today. This legislation includes a list of offences against children, these are referred to as Schedule One offences. The Children's Act 1989 has been continually amended and updated since the first act was passed in 1889. This was known as the 'children's charter' and was the first law passed that allowed police to gain a warrant and enter a property if they think a child is in danger. The Children's Act was also introduced to provide clarity over the many different legislations that exist. It also outlines what local authorities and courts should do to protect the welfare of the children. It outlines that local authorities have a duty to investigate if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is in significant harm. This act defines “harm” as ill-treatment (including sexual abuse and non-physical) or the impairment of health (both physical and mental) or development (physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural). “Significant” is not defined in the act, although it does say that Courts should compare the health and development of the child “with that which could be reasonable to expect of a similar child”. This would ensure that all cases are...
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