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The Protection of Children and Young People has long since been a priority in the UK. Back in 1933, the first child protection legislation was enforced and some parts of this are still enforced today.

The current child protection system is based on the Children Act 1989. This act is enforced in England and Wales. The Children Order 1995 (Northern Ireland) and the Children Act 1995 (Scotland) share the same principles and have their own guidance.

These acts created a single system for identifying people unsuitable to work with children, this combined the previous Department of Health’s ‘consultancy index list’ and the Department of Educations ‘list 99’ with people who have criminal records. The Children Act 2004 made it mandatory for employers to complete a check (administered by the Criminal Records Bureau) when employing someone in a post involving the care of children. It also made it an offence to employ anyone on this list. We will cover more on this later.

The main principle is to protect the child’s welfare, this is paramount when making any decisions about a child’s upbringing. This act introduced the concept of parental responsibility which sets out the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities of the parent or carer of a child. It sets out the process for integrating services to children so that every child can achieve the five outcomes laid out in the Every Child Matters green paper, these include;

Be Healthy

Physically, mentally, sexually, emotionally healthy but also have a healthy lifestyle, choosing not to take illegal drugs

Stay Safe

Safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence and sexual exploitation, safe from accidental injury and death, safe from bullying and discrimination, safe from crime and anti-social behaviour both in and out of school, have security, stability and are cared for.

Enjoy and achieve

Be ready for school, attend and enjoy school, achieve stretching national educational standards at primary school, achieve personal and social development and enjoy recreation, achieve stretching national educational standards at secondary school.

Make a positive contribution

Engage in decision making and support the community and environment, engage in law-abiding positive behaviour in and out of school, develop positive relationships and choose not to bully and discriminate, develop self-confidence and successfully deal with significant life changes and challenges, develop enterprising behaviour.

Achieve economic wellbeing

Engage in further education, employment or training on leaving school, ready for employment, live in decent homes and sustainable communities, access to transport and material goods and live in a household free from low income.

The act defines ‘harm’ as ill-treatment (including sexual abuse and nonphysical forms of ill-treatment) or the impairment of health (physical or mental) or development (physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural)
There are a number of other Acts that are relevant to the Safeguarding of children, we will explore these in the next videos.