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A guide to child protection services in the UK

Everyone in society is responsible for ensuring that children come to no harm. Specific services are provided by the government to ensure that children are well looked after, and to intervene if something goes wrong. This article gives a brief overview of the services that aim to keep each child safe.

Legislation

The current child protection system is based on the Children’s Act 1989. The most significant effect of this act was introducing the principle of paramountcy. This requires that the child’s welfare is always paramount when any decision is made regarding the child, be it in relation to parental custody, education or medical care. The act also emphasises the responsibility of parents to look after their children rather than working from an assumption of parental rights.

When things go wrong

The UK, via the Childen’s Act and other legislation, has set up an inter-agency child protection system which aims to work together to combat child abuse and neglect. Social workers from local authorities work with local police services, schools and medical practitioners to better ensure that all child welfare needs are addressed. Local councils Local councils are required by law to investigate any reports of mistreatment and local safeguarding children boards exist to ensure that cases are followed up and addressed properly.

Online

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is a branch of the police that is dedicated to preventing and eradicating sexual abuse of children. It also adopts a holistic approach, liaising regularly with other government agencies and charities to develop its work.

Voluntary sector

A host of UK charities support the work of national and local government in the UK, providing services that support parents and provide help and listening services to children. National Society Probably, the best known UK child protection charity is the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) which has as its aim the eradication of cruelty to children. It campaigns for constant improvements in child protection law and services, provides advice to adults and runs two help lines. Childline Childline is a free online or telephone service for children who need someone to talk to in confidentiality. NSPCC Helpline The NSPCC Helpline is there for adults who want to report concerns about child welfare.

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