Definition of Child Protection

There is no legal definition of child protection, but services aim to identify those children who are at risk of serious harm. Child protection aims to keep children safe where there is serious risk of harm. Serious risk of harm many arise from a single event or a serious of concerns over time.

Often the phrases ‘Child Protection' and ‘Safeguarding' are used synonymously, but they are quite distinct. Safeguarding refers to all children, whilst Child Protection refers distinctly to children at risk of harm.

The Children Act 1989, defines a child as ‘anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday, even if they are living independently, are a member of the armed forces or is in hospital.

The Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013 identifies four types of abuse and neglect: emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.


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