Legislative bodies draft and implement policies on different aspects of the society. The following project focuses on the child protection policy enacted in England under the UK Children Act 2004. The report evaluates how the policy directly affects children. Primarily, the evaluation process seeks to establish whether the child protection policy promotes or impairs how childhood is perceived in the context of enhancing the well-being and life of a child. The research project begins with an overview of the Children Act 2004, followed by an in-depth review of the child protection policy. The report seeks relevant and reliable data from credible online sources and journals.
Children Act 2004
The UK Children Act was established on 15th November 2004. Existing records indicate that the Act aimed to enhance the establishment of a Children’s Commissioner (Legislation.gov.uk, 2004). The Act would also guide local authorities and other key stakeholders on the appropriate and necessary services for children and young people. Chapter 31, part 1 of the Act charges the Children’s Commissioner with the responsibility of advocating and protecting children in England. Further, the Commissioner is obligated to sensitize the public on the views and interests of children. Moreover, the Children’s Commissioner can monitor the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in England. In essence, the entity not only vouches for the awareness of the public on the children rights but also follows up for the actual implementation of the rights within England.
The Act further highlights the functions of the Children Commissioner. In Chapter 31, part 2 of the Children Act 2004, the England Commissioner has the jurisdiction to provide advice and help to particular children (Legislation.gov.uk, 2004. For instance, some children live away from home or receive social care in social institutions. The Children Commissioner may act as a representative for such individuals. Mainly, the provisions of the Act under this section cater for children who may not be lucky to belong to grow up in a family setting. On a broader scale, the Children Commissioner reduces the burden for social institutions taking care of the children with the moral and socio-economic support.
The Children’s Commissioner further acts as an intermediary between children needs and public policymakers. Under part 3 of Chapter 31 of the Children Act, the Commissioner evaluates individual cases of children which pertain to public policy (Legislation.gov.uk, 2004). After thorough inquiry and confirmation that the case is relevant to other children, the Commissioner makes recommendations about the issue. For example, a child in a public school may be suffering from a skin disease.
Interaction and contact with other children pose the risk of widespread infection across the institution. The Commissioner, therefore, has a mandate to liaise with the health departments in England to provide appropriate medical care to the children in the particular school. Recent reports indicate that the UK is currently battling with the killer Aussie flu which spreads fast especially among school-going children (Downey, 2018). The Children Commissioner, therefore, needs to hold an inquiry into the case to establish whether school-going children in England have been vaccinated against the flu for health purposes of the kids.
The Child Protection Policy in England
The UK government has a clear outline of what the child protection policy entails. The policy considers the children’s welfare. In essence, children in England have access to education and health services, as well as adoption procedures for kids in children homes (Bradshow, 2016; Council, 2016). Further, the child protection policy warns the citizens and social institutions against unfair treatment to a child or group of children (Gov.uk, 2014). Fundamentally, the policy advocates for equity in access of services to all children regardless of the background. Still on the aspect of equality, the policy advocates for the non-discriminative protection of children from all forms of abuse. In particular, the policy discourages gender bias, ethnic profiling, mistreatment of children with disability, and seclusion of children with particular sexual orientation. Johns (2017) observes that the law of England holds Social Workers accountable for ensuring that all children enjoy their basic needs lest the individuals face criminal charges. The legal and justice institutions in England, therefore, propel the child protection agenda forward.
The child protection policy in England is subject to review, approval, and endorsement on an annual basis (Gov.uk, 2014). A particular board of trustees handles the process for necessary improvements. For instance, in March 2015, the Department for Education in England updated the policy to guide anyone working with children. One of the changes made includes the requirement that persons who work with children should be qualified social workers (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), 2018). The NSPCC observes that mishandling and abuse of children arise from interaction with people who do not have the experience in caring for kids hence the policy changes. Other amendments to the policy include the requirement for local authorities to commission and provide services for children at risk of sexual abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM), and radicalization (NSPCC, 2018). Further, the NSPCC requires local authorities to report incidents such as the death of a child, and sexual abuse and harm on a child to Local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs). The policy amendments indicate that the child protection measures in England are continually improving for maximum safety and well-being of the children in the region.
The policymakers recognize that it is crucial to inform both children and parents of the policy and procedures. However, research shows that social workers experience challenges as they receive conflicting demands and expectations from the children’s families (Fargion, 2014). Therefore, the practitioners have to strike a balance between their social work cultures and the complex relationship with the families. All in all, social workers are said to strive to support both adults and children by providing the appropriate services in collaboration with the UK government (Greenwood, 2018). Some of the essential elements that the government provides towards eradication of the social workers’ challenges include funding, food, clothing, and accommodation facilities. In the context of this study, the collaboration yields more social security to the children.
The Impact of the Child Protection Policy in England
From the discussion above, it is clear that the child protection policy directly benefits the children of England. To begin with, the existing Children’s Commissioner aggressively fights for the children’s rights. As mentioned earlier, the children can access education, health services, and food among other basic needs. Besides, the commissioner facilitates motivational programs to children living in social care facilities. The implication is that the children develop a sense of belonging through the love and support from the Children’s Commissioner.
Further, the policy promotes the well-being of children through the review of public policies. According to Birkland (2014), the processes of making public policies impact on the lives of citizens significantly. In this case, the policymakers under the child protection movements have the responsibility of ensuring that children’s welfare is prioritized. For example, a 2017 report indicated that more than100,000 children in England live in temporary accommodation (The Guardian, 2017). In the context of this study, therefore, the UK government needs to account for such cases by making budgetary allocations towards child welfare programs. Besides, such an initiative offers job opportunities for social welfare workers. On a broader perspective, the country delivers such children from miserable lifestyles and molds the kids to be successful people in future.
Another merit of the child protection policy is that it promotes equality and discourages discrimination towards all children. The provisions of the policy ensure that all children get access to all social services without facing bias with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, beliefs, and sexuality among others. Such a policy promotes positivity and love among children. The kids are inspired to carry on the virtues to adulthood. Psychologists argue that the environment in which a child grows in affects their future perspectives (Chen, Shi, & Sun, 2017). Therefore, children who grow in an environment surrounded by love and equal treatment are bound to overcome the negative forces of ethnic and racial profiling and social injustices.
The annual amendment of the child protection policy ensures that the children welfare is continually improved. As mentioned earlier, the policy changes affect both social workers and the children. On one hand, the staff has to possess the right skills and qualification in handling children. On the other hand, the children have to be aware of their rights and what the policies mean with regard to the kids’ welfare. The collaboration between the UK government and social institutions simplifies the task of implementing the policies. Fundamentally, the legislative body outlines the legal grounds pertaining to the policies and workers in children social welfare programs follow the rules. Particular interests go into child protection against sexual abuse and FGM. The latter affects girls in uncivilized communities. Child protection advocates need to delve deeper into the issue towards sensitizing members of particular communities against the vice. Those caught violating the policy are liable to legal punishment.
The child protection policy also helps families and schools towards safeguarding children against violence, social exclusion, and exploitation. Violence towards children could be in the physical or emotional form. A child who is unreasonably beaten up by her parents or teachers could develop severe bodily injuries. It is the mandate of child protection agencies to investigate such incidents and take the appropriate legal action. Emotional violence towards children could range from verbal abuse to constant criticism. In line with child protection, the policymakers need to enlighten parents and teachers on the psychological impact of emotional violence.
Besides protecting children from violence, the child protection policy safeguards kids from social exclusion. In England, for example, schools enroll children from different racial, religious, ethnic, and national backgrounds (Alexander, Fahey Palma, Nicholson, & Cleland, 2017). The inclusivity fosters unity among the children. Besides, the kids are able to enjoy the aspect of diversity and thus exchange different viewpoints. Not only do the children grow intellectually but also socially. Further, the child protection policy safeguards children against exploitation. Employers are warned against employing minors as such would constitute child labor. Similarly, parents are not supposed to expose their children to hard tasks that could potentially harm the children.
The child protection policy positively impacts children’s lives by promoting the well-being and livelihood of the kids. The implementation of the policy, therefore, keeps facilitators on toes as they have to achieve the desired goals. It is crucial for parents, learning institutions, and social welfare programs to enlighten themselves on the rights of children. Child protection is at the heart of the children rights. In a nutshell, children need physical, social, economic, and emotional protection. The providence of such essential elements produces prudent and bold adults.
- Alexander, K., Fahey Palma, T., Nicholson, S., & Cleland, J. (2017). ‘Why not you?’ Discourses of widening access on UK medical school websites. Medical Education, 51(6), 598-611.
- Birkland, T. A. (2014). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts and models of public policy making. London: Routledge.
- Bradshaw, J. (Ed.). (2016). The Wellbeing of Children in the UK. Bristol, England: Policy Press.
- Chen, B. B., Shi, Z., & Sun, S. (2017). Life history strategy as a mediator between childhood environmental unpredictability and adulthood personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 111, 215-219.
- Council, B. C. (2016). England and Wales. Adoption & Fostering, 40(1), 77-87.
- Downey, A. (2018 January, 09). Is your child eligible for a free flu jab? Parents urged to protect their kids from Aussie flu. Retrieved from https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/5302615/aussie-flu-jab-free-vaccine-child-eligible-symptoms/
- Fargion, S. (2014). Synergies and tensions in child protection and parent support: Policy lines and practitioners cultures. Child & Family Social Work, 19(1), 24-33.
- Gov.uk. (2014 July, 14). Safeguarding children and young people. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safeguarding-children-and-young-people/safeguarding-children-and-young-people#the-child-protection-policy
- Greenwood, G. (2018 January, 09). More social workers ‘taking sick leave’. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-42118856
- Legislation.gov.uk. (2004). Children Act 2004: Chapter 31. Retrieved from https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/31
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). (2018). Child protection in England: Legislation, policy and guidance. Retrieved from https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-protection-system/england/legislation-policy-guidance/
- The Guardian. (2017 July, 22). Number of homeless children in temporary accommodation rises 37%. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/22/number-of-homeless-children-in-temporary-accommodation-rises-37