M1 Analyse the impact of current safeguarding legislation on day to day work with children and young people

Authors Avatar by nerobinsonhotmailcouk (student)

M1 Analyse the impact of current safeguarding legislation on day to day work with children and young people


Safeguarding is a concept that is not only concerned with child protection but also deals with many other issues. The safeguarding children initiative has seen a development and proliferation of professional organisations which supported by legislation, policies and procedures have powers and duties to keep children safe in several areas. These include being safe from accidents, free from bullying, not being forced into marriage, dealing with missing children, dealing with crime and offending behaviour, and above all actively promoting the welfare of children in a healthy and safe environment (Tassoni et al 2010, p 112). The main laws which influence the way the safeguarding system has evolved are the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. There are, however, many other laws and guidance which are instrumental to creating a safeguarding system to cope with the dynamic nature and challenges of today’s society. Amongst others, these include the Human Rights Act 1998, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, the Sexual Offences Act 1997 and government guidance in the form of Working Together To Safeguard Children 2013. This essay analyses the impact of some of these statutes and guidance on the day to day work of professionals with children and young people.


The Children Act 1989 (CA 1989) is the main statute which governs the safeguarding of children and young people. Its arrival came after some significant historical events. First, there was the death of Jasmine Beckford in 1984 who died after being discharged from care and returned to her family (Ref). Shortly afterwards, and probably influenced by Jasmine’s death, was the extensive, and overwhelmingly incorrect amount of children taken into care following the infamous 1987 Cleveland child sexual abuse affair (Ref).  Finally, there was the ‘Gillick ruling’ where young people considered mature enough to understand the implications of their decisions where, in certain situations, allowed to make them (NSPCC 2014). It is important that professionals have an understanding of this historical context when using the Children Act 1989 in their day-to-day working with children, young people and their families.

Due to the influence of the ‘Gillick competency’ the CA 1989 has been hailed as a charter for children’s rights (Brammer 2010, p 168). One positive effect of this is that children can now refuse to have embarrassing and invasive medical examinations forced upon them (s 44 (7) CA 1989), as was the case for the children during the mass sexual abuse findings at Cleveland (Corby 2006, p 47). The Act also appears to have many different value positions which at times appear to be at odds with each other. However, after the Jasmine Beckford inquiry, which stressed the need for robust social work intervention and the Cleveland Affair which criticised state intervention, this can be seen as another positive as it allows professionals to favour different positions when and where necessary.

There are three principles that social workers and other professionals follow when using the CA 1989. These are the welfare principle, the no delay principle and the no order principle. When professionals fail to follow these principles when working with children and young people it can have severe and far-reaching consequences. First, the welfare principle emphasises that the welfare of the child takes priority over anything and everything. To help professionals, such as social workers apply the welfare principle the Act details a welfare checklist. This is another positive aspect of the CA 1989 and was influenced by notorious cases where parents’ wishes had taken precedence over the child’s needs, as in the case of Jasmine Beckford. Sadly, many subsequent cases have shown the dire consequences of what happens when this principle is not strictly adhered to.

Second, the no delay principle is based on the premise that long delays in a child’s case are generally harmful to the child. For example, in a contact dispute the longer a child goes without seeing someone, such as the father, the harder it becomes to re-introduce contact, and the longer siblings are separated the more difficult it becomes to place them together again. Furthermore, child protection procedures have been known to take so long that a child becomes unadoptable. Therefore, adhering to the no delay principle has major benefits for the overall stability and emotional health of a child. An example of contravention of the no delay principle was a five year litigation battle between a mother and father which resulted in the father abandoning his pursuit of contact with his daughter. The negative aspect of delay was acknowledged by the Judge who in his public judgement bemoaned ‘We failed them. The system failed them.’ (Laird 2010, p 77).

Join now!

The third principle is the no order principle. This states that the court should not make an order unless it considers ‘that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all’ (Brayne and Carr 2010, p 247).  This can only be used by the courts and is a positive measure in that it prevents unnecessary orders and state intervention taking place. When the state does become involved in children’s lives it can have very negative consequences. For example, in 2006 only 12 % of children in care achieved 5 A* to C grades at ...

This is a preview of the whole essay