By law, all children under the age of 18 living in the UK have the right to protection. Children who need support and safety have the right to receive adequate care and to grow up in a protective environment (Bunting et al., 2018). While caregivers and carers are the first line of care for their children, professionals who work with partner organizations and agencies, have a clear responsibility also to protect and promote the welfare for all children in their area (GOV, 2018).
The 1989 Children Act (“the 1989 Act”) was introduced as a technique for changing these related circumstances. The 1989 Act, which is continually amending the Children and Family Act of 2014, aims to ensure the reliability of the family unit and always ensure the protection of children against significant damage (Burton and Revell, 2018). The Act states that children are best cared for within their own families, although some cases prove otherwise as not the best option for the child.
A significant number of children are not always completely protected in the UK due to numerous children having to deal with many factors such as violence, abuse, neglect, and child exploitation, all of these which can be primarily experienced within the child’s home. Such violations can have a significant effect on the child’s survival, broader development, and equity. Over 50,000 children in the UK have been identified as needing protection from abuse (BBK 2020).
Many previously reported cases of child abuse and child abuse, such as Victoria Climbie, Peter Connelly (Baby P), and Daniel Pelka, shed light on the shock of the lack of government intervention that caused these children to suffer (Shariff, 2018). Furthermore, the child protection scandal in 1980 revealed that child sexual abuse was not a prominent concern, and children were repeatedly abused by men; this was due to poor parenting and poor living conditions. However, during 1987 there were reports of child abuse in the Cleveland area, and many children were removed from the family homes.
The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014
The Social Services and Welfare Act (Wales) was entered into force on April 6, 2016 (Munro, 2019). The law is a legal system to improve the wellbeing of those in need of care and support and to improve social services in Wales. The Act further increases the legal rights of some disabled children to assist.
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The 2014 Act implements four principles, support vulnerable people who are in need to achieve wellbeing, enabling equal rights and allowing them to have an opinion on the type of support received, co-operation and partnership drive service delivery, and lastly, the prevention of escalating needs will be promoted by services and the correct support will be available at any given time (GOV WALES, 2020).
How legislations protect children
The legislation mentioned above plays a pivotal role in protecting children against harm that may be emotional or psychological, physical, sexual, or neglect. Emotional harm, also called emotional abuse, occurs when a child is made to feel unloved, worthless, or scared (NSPCC, 2009). It is associated with psychological harm since the impacts of worthlessness or scare lead to stress or, in severe cases, post-traumatic stress disorders (Powers et al., 2015 p. 7). Emotional abuse may occur at home or in other social institutions. Physical harm is that which causes pain or injury to a child. Some assaults that cause physical harm include hitting, burring, suffocating, throwing, poisoning, and other life-threatening acts. Sexual assault though in most cases, is probed as a single case is also physical harm to a child. Usually, physical abuse is associated with neglect, which reveals relapse in the “looking after” policy (Child abuse, 2020 par. 3).
Both Children Act 1989 and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 oblige the adults who are categorized as to look after the children to avoid harming them and ensure prompt intervention to any form of harm (Child abuse, 2020). From a broader perspective, the legislatures consider that a child is to be looked after by the authority. Looking after entails care for emotional and physical needs such as love and accommodation. Part six of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 outlines the various authoritative interventions by the authority regarding the provision of needs and accommodation, and foster policies to ensure children are protected against harm (Davies, 2016). That is, they are loved and assured of their worth, and are not subjected to any kind of harm. Also, the legislatures caution bystanders to remind children’s services of their obligations over a child’s protection or make complaints to the Children’s Director of the Children’s Services department against any child offenders (Child abuse, 2020). That way, the two legal frameworks ensure children’s protection in wakes and UK.
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Promotion of Child’s Welfare
The welfare of children is paramount in the UK and Wales. According to InBrief, family courts make decisions concerning family issues with critical concern over the welfare of children (InBrief, n.d. para 2). That is, the family court would not make a ruling that is likely to deteriorate the welfare of the children involved. Also, the judicial system has developed a checklist which consists of a statutory criterion under the Children’s Act 1989, through which the welfare of a child is assessed. Hence, besides protection from harm, the welfare of children is a significant concern.
The seven children welfare checklist is documented in the s1(3) of the Children Act 1989. The first criteria concern the wishes and feelings of a child. Depending on their age, the court determines whether or not the wishes of a child are theirs of influenced by outside factors. The second criterion address the educational, emotional, and physical needs. The court determines which authority is in the best position to provide for a child, and the quality of provisions made (Richardson, Boylan and Brammer, 2017). The third criteria assess the harm or potential harm inflicted on children due to a change of circumstances (Standley and Davies, 2013 p. 441). Therefore, the court mitigates the changes that would adversely affect the welfare of children, among other factors. The fourth criterion protects children against harmful backgrounds that are associated with the cultural perception of age, sex, religion, or other characteristics. The fifth, sixth, and seventh criterion entail potential harm, the ability of guardians to meet children’s needs, and legal ramifications of children’s welfare (The Welfare Checklist, n.d.). Overall, both Acts ensure that the welfare of children is legitimate and that they are provided with appropriate childcare, and protected from harm by both the courts and their guardians.
Involvement of the Family in Childcare and Protection
Family plays the primary role in ensuring the welfare and protection of children. It is so because the family is the immediate social institution that a child is administered after birth (Sharma, 2013 p.306). Therefore, the effectiveness of both the Children Act 1989 and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 is significantly impacted by its association with a family. For instance, a family is the most critical determinant of the status of welfare and protection to a child, which are critical concerns of both Acts (Berger and Font, 2015). Usually, childcare is a mandatory obligation to the authority in the UK. Also, family association with the two acts usually arise in cases where legal intervention is required. In that perspective, the Children’s Act 1989 obliges courts to assess the future amplifications of family-related decisions (Practice direction 12b, 2020). That is, a family should focus on a quality upbringing, which has long term beneficence in the welfare of a child (Biehal, Sinclair and Wade, 2015). However, both Acts are critical about the amplifications of excessive care regarding the freedom and autonomy of children (Dickens et al., 2019).
In conclusion, both Children Act 1989 and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 foster the protection and wellbeing of children in Wales and the UK. The 1989 Children Act (“the 1989 Act”) was introduced as a technique to ensure children grow up in safe environments. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 is a legal system to improve the wellbeing of those in need of care and support and to improve social services in Wales. Both appreciate the involvement of family and its implications in the upbringing of a child. Hence the family is a critical focus in the development of policies and court decisions regarding the safety and wellbeing of children.
Berger, L. and Font, S., 2015. The Role of the Family and Family-Centered Programs and Policies. The Future of Children, 25(1), pp.155-176.
Biehal, N., Sinclair, I. and Wade, J., 2015. Reunifying abused or neglected children: Decision-making and outcomes. Child Abuse & Neglect, 49, pp.107-118.
Childlawadvice.org.uk. 2020. Child Abuse. [online] Available at: <https://childlawadvice.org.uk/information-pages/child-abuse/> [Accessed 18 May 2020].
Davies, H., 2016. The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. Environmental Law Review, 18(1), pp.41-56.