In daily activities, children should be determined and recognised as individuals of specific importance. In order to achieve this, their welfare should be provided by their parents, guardians, or responsible authorities of the government. According to the International Labour Office (2006), children should be given the most standardised rights across the world. Children have rights to healthcare services, family protection, access to education, and general safeguarding from abuse and harm. These rights dictate their development behaviour and changes over time as they grow into adults. However, there are some instances in which the rights of a child may be violated.
Therefore, this paper intends to firstly clarify the definition of a child according to the English law. Secondly, it will focus on various instances in which child abuse is inevitable as well as child protection and welfare. Also, this essay will shed light on the role of the parents and guardians in taking care of the children. It will also assess the effectiveness of the Children Act of 1989 and the human rights of children together with Human Rights Act (1950). This paper will also highlight the circumstances under which a child may be withdrawn from the parent or guardian.
Who is a Child?
The law of England explains that a child is an individual whose age ranges between 1 and 18 years. He or she qualifies a right to protection and care by the parents, guardians, and government agencies that are responsible in parental care provisions to neglected children.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse can be defined as any physical harm, neglect, or sexual mistreatment of a child. These harmful activities may be induced by parents or any other person, thus resulting in harming a child. Child abuse and neglect have persisted over the years. Despite the government's efforts of putting across laws and legislation to protect them, children still engage themselves in harmful activities. According to the International Labour Office (2006), a large number of children, which is approximately 126 million of ages between 5 and 17 years, perfom dangerous work besides domestic activities.
Child protection refers to processes and activities done to fight against brutality, misuse, and child abuse (UNICEF). It entails battle against sexual misuse, drug trafficking, child labour, and dangerous customary practices such as female genital mutilation. Therefore, it is the responsibility of every parent to protect his/her children from dangerous activities (Beckett, 2007, p.45). Other than parents, guardians and local authorities who have been assigned the responsibility by the court should also exercise their duty.
Children's Act of 1989
In preparation to safeguard the interests of children, the government of the UK developed Children Act 1989 to care about children's welfare provision. The Children Bill was first encountered in Queen's speech in November of 1988 and taken to the House of Lords. It was later granted imperial agreement and became an act in 1989.
The act distributes duties to local authorities, judges, parents, and other child welfare-related agencies in the United Kingdom. These duties are meant to guarantee the protection of children in aiming to uplift their well-being in society. The act stresses that care for children should begin at family levels (Bailey-Harris and Harris, 2002, p.90). In cases where families do not conform to the act, there are provisions for such circumstances. For instance, the child will be offered parental care from other parties who are willing to do so. This can be done in the court of law following the required procedure.
In this part, Children Act has noted down principles that bring together the rights of the children. In regard to non-discrimination, children have been given common rights to potentially grow and develop in all conditions of life. For instance, they have been able to access equal educational services without any discrimination based on their gender, disability, ethnicity, and nationality. Secondly, children have accessed best welfare as it has been considered a primary concern. (Belwett, 2011, p.34).
Thirdly, children have accessed basic services and given equal treatments in preparation for achieving their full growth. The opinions of children have also been recognized and respected. Decisions concerning their welfare are done with their consultations..
Governments and local authorities participate in making sure that all children are well taken care of (International Labour Office, 2006, p.23). They are responsible for issues like child neglect, abuse, and labour. To effectively make a follow-up process, the government sets legislations that guide and guarantee their proper care and protection.
The Welfare of a Child
Children have been well taken care of as the Act suggests. Under section 17, it highlights that interests of children and their welfare should be considered a primary concern. Thus, the courts have worked out to enforce this. Furthermore, in trying to promote the welfare of the children, courts and other responsible agencies should consider children's interests such as education, emotional, and physical needs. In addition, courts should account for the children's background living conditions that can influence their lives, difficulties that they face, and the extent to which families are able to provide for them.
The section 8 of the Act defines parental responsibility as general rights, powers, duties, tasks, and abilities that the law grants a parent in regard to his/her child. Concerning this, children have been able to enjoy their rights under care of their parents. However, in the case where parents are not married, the children have been cared by their mothers. The act provides that if a child was born from unmarried parties, the father should seek court consent to either allow him to exercise parental duty or outline a reciprocated harmony between both parents (Thorpe and Clarke, 1998, p.132). Furthermore, the act points out that one or more persons can offer responsibility to the child. However, one can act alone if the decision is made and accepted formally in the court.
Also, children who do not have anyone to provide parental care have been assisted in the courts through appointment of their guardians as the law provides. This appointment can be terminated if the parent applies for parental responsibility through court proceedings.
Orders Pertaining Interests of Children in Family Dealings
Welfare of children has been achieved through a variety of orders as noted down in section 8 of the Act. They are meant to battle with disputes between parents and private individuals concerning their care. These orders include child arrangement which highlights the provisions of the individual who stays with a child to allow change of responsibility. The second order is a prohibited step order which prevents a parent from exercising his/her parental duties without approval from the court. The third order is the specific issue order which links to procedures provided by the court to solve an issue that has erupted concerning parental care of the child.
These orders cannot be exercised concerning children who access the responsibility of their parents. However, the residence order is excluded from this statement. When one is applying for the orders provided in section 8, the court is required to determine the character of the projected application, the link that the applicant has with the child, the disturbance that he/she can get, and establish whether or not the child is receiving care from the local authorities. Further considerations include the plans that local authorities have regarding the future of the child and the interests that parents have in him/her (Prest, 2008, p.89). Therefore, an individual who attains a residence order for a child will undertake parental duties for some time, as he/she awaits completion of the validations. However, the act does not give anyone permission to alter the surname of the child or move the child out of the United Kingdom without the consent of the law.
Also, families have gained assistance from the courts through family assistance orders as provided in this section. Trial officers and local authority personnel have been able to advise those persons who have been named in the order.
Support for Children and Families
Concerning this provision in section 44 of the act, the authority has been given an obligatory duty to provide care and promote the welfare of children who are proven needy. A child is declared needy if he/she is disabled or is not able to meet reasonable usual health or growth unless provided. The authorities through the mandates given by the act have successfully provided care and parental responsibilities for the needy children (Belwett, 2011, p.167). Additionally, the local authorities have the ability to provide day-care to those children who are under the age of 5 years. This has ensured the welfare of children who do not get enough assistance from their families and guardians.
Accommodation of the Child
As stated in section 20 of the Children Act, local authorities have taken the responsibilities for the provision of accommodation to the children without access to parental care. This responsibility can be extended to the children whose lives are in danger while they continue staying with their parents. Following these reasons, a community home is constructed to take care of these individuals who are within the age of 16 to 18 years.
While performing these activities, opinions of the children have been considered. Also, individuals who are carrying out parental responsibilities have been consulted to decide if the child can be housed under this section or not. Nevertheless, a parent or a guardian has enjoye a right to make a decision regarding his/her child.
Additionally, in the case of the children under police custody or remand, their accommodation has also been accounted for in regard to their request. In general, it is stated clearly that local authorities should ensure the welfare and comfort living of children in times of their need.
Care and Supervision
As stated in section 17, court grants a supervision order if a child is likely to face more problems when not placed in the local authority care. For example, the court has the authority to supervise the welfare of the child. It can also undertake an investigation. This supervision has ensured that children are well brought up in a comfortable environment free from harm. For instance, local authorities have been able to take care of children whose lives were in dangers while staying with their parents.
Through this order, local authorities have been allowed by the courts to take care for children for a specific period of time. This has happened in circumstances where investigation on the ability of parents or guardians to provide parental care is being done (Beckett, 2007, p.67). Thus, this has ensured the safety of a child until it is proven that he/she can receive parental responsibilities from parents or guardians.
The act states that the court shall appoint a guardian who will protect and provide parental care to that child lacking parental responsibility. Thus, this court rule has allowed the appointed guardians to take full responsibility in the process of safeguarding the child. Therefore, it has ensured that no child is left without necessary provision of basic interests.
Protection of Children
The act also in sectin 17 has provided for the protection of children. It entails the assessment of a child to determine his/her well-being conditions. This has helped in making the responsible authorities or the parental care providers take required actions if the child is found to be in a risky environment. Children have protected from emergencies, attacks, and other risky situations that may be dangerous to their lives.
Emergency Protection Orders
This order aims at protecting a child from encountering a risk or a disaster. In this process, an application can be established and taken to the court in order to rescue a child if it is believed he/she will probably get harmed (Bailey-Harris and Harris, 2002, p.102). These orders have allowed local authorities to exercise parental care practices to provide a child with necessary services that will ensure his/her safety.
Also, this order has been quite important concerning the well-being of a child. For instance, it has played vital roles during emergencies, as it acts as a life-saving tool for the neglected children and others who do not access parental care.
Police Protection Provisions
These provisions under section 46 of the Act give have given police officers an authority to rescue a child suffering from serious harm. This has helped the rescue mission of the police to exercise its roles. In addition, the provision has been important concerning the life of children.
Section 47 Investigations
This section has authorised local authorities to carry out an investigation if informed that a child is under emergency or suffering from serious harm (Thorpe and Clarke, 1998, p.67). In view of this, responsible authorities have been able to immediately respond to the emergency and, thus, have saved several lives of children.
The Abduction of Children Care
The abduction of children care has been essential in protecting children from falling in the hands of the wrong people. Through this, guardians and parents who have been assigned in the court to provide parental responsibilities to the child have used this order to safeguard children from abduction.
Under the Act, community homes to accommodate homeless children have been constructed. These homes have received control from the local authorities. As a result, homeless children have been offered with comfortable housings.
Human Rights Act (1998)
Human Right Act has been linked together with European Convention Human Rights (1950). Concerning this, public authorities have acted accordingly in respect to ECHR rights. In consideration of article 8 of ECHR, public authorities and other groups have been able to respect families without any interference. Furthermore, public authorities have exercised their role of protecting lives from harm and torture.
The Effectiveness of the 1989 Act
Originally, the execution of the act is associated with communal services. With more interpretations, the act has promoted provisions. This has resulted in more debates regarding the roles of the communal work and its determination in safeguarding and encouraging the welfare of the children. Also, the realisation of its importance has been achieved.
The act has developed policies which are projected to make sure that the needs of the children are met. This achievement is accomplished through the assessment of children in order to understand the level and type of their needs.
Children Act gives local authorities an extensive control in the protection of children. Additionally, it has significantly increased the level of security concerning children's affairs. Childcare orders provide a basis of progressive plans for children without any disturbances. Furthermore, the authority to shift responsibility from one party to another has enabled legal authorities to interfere with such negative plans that some people might have regarding children (Bailey-Harris and Harris, 2002, p.145). They involve themselves in decision-making, which favours the lives of the children.
On the other hand, the act gives more authority to the court. This power that the courts are given may undermine the activities of the authorities as they work towards offering care to the children. Thus, even where there is an agreement made between parents and local authorities, the court has the power to overrule it (Prest, 2018, p.67). To successfully undertake some responsibilities, there are some provided orders that may affect child care support. In case of serious emergencies, the child will not be rescued with immediate effect, and this may cause harm to him or her.
However, the act defines children who are in need of support and gives them an opportunity to be taken care of. Nevertheless, it imposes target responsibilities, which hinder the authorities from effectively performing their duties. For example, local authorities are required to follow some steps although they are time-consuming. This is a result of budget and resource scarcity. Also, section 17 guarantees the local authorities the freedom to take control of resources which are put in place. However, there are variations in the quality of services that the local authorities offer to the children depending on their available resources.
In conclusion, it is clear that Children Act has had significant impacts on the care of the children. In view of this, children who have been neglected by their parents are susceptible to unfriendly conditions in their lives. For instance, they lack parental care and support as well as protection from abuse. This increases the chances of being misused or abused in different forms. For example, child labour is common among such children. Similarly, they may undergo sexual abuses.
The passing of the Children Act 1989 has come to help many children who are suffering from different challenges. The provisions and orders provided in the act play a major role in providing support and encouraging the welfare of the children. However, some adjustments are required to be done. For example, provisions relating to emergencies. Orders should be modified in such a way that it will take the shortest time to carry out an effective rescue mission.
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