Significant Harm

The Children Act 1989 introduced Significant Harm as the continuum of need that justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of children such as Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Neglect.

Harm is defined as the ill treatment or impairment of health and development, for example, impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another.

Suspicions or allegations that a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm should result in a statutory C&F assessment incorporating a Section 47 Enquiry.

There are no absolute criteria on which to rely when judging what constitutes significant harm. Sometimes a single violent episode may constitute significant harm but more often it is an accumulation of significant events, both acute and long-standing, which interrupt, damage or change the child’s development.

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