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Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 highlights the duty of care that falls to any local authority to safeguard children’s welfare, within its power and if it is reasonably practicable, if it suspects that a child is at risk.
What is child abuse?
The NSPCC define Child Abuse as:
“…any action by another person – adult or child – that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about a lack of love, care and attention. We know that neglect, whatever form it takes, can be just as damaging to a child as physical abuse.
An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event. And it can increasingly happen online.”
It is estimated that over half a million children are abused in the UK each year.
When do social services get involved?
Social services will get involved in a child abuse case following a referral from the child, the child’s school, medical professionals, a friend or family members or many other sources, including anonymous referrals. Social workers from the local authority should always try to work with the family to make sure all getting the help and support needed is given so the child can stay at home.
If further action is needed they will start an investigation and decide the course of action required and then carry out any necessary actions or interventions.
Social services have a responsibility to provide anybody accessing their services with adequate care and take all reasonable steps to protect against and prevent abuse from taking place. If they have failed in this responsibility and you or a loved one have been a victim of abuse or neglect due to negligence by social services whilst under their care, then you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.
If the local authority failed to manage your situation properly, leading you to suffer abuse or neglect that could have been avoided then you may be able to claim against social services.
How should I have been protected from abuse?
Social services should have picked up on a number of warning signs that a child is at risk of abuse or neglect – if they fail to pick up on or respond to these signs then they have not taken the reasonable steps to safeguard a child. The signs include:
Referrals – these could be from the school, medical professionals, a family member or an anonymous source
The child’s appearance and behaviours – there may be visible signs of abuse or neglect
Social workers may also fail to investigate the family history properly, to decide whether the child is involved with individuals who may be dangerous to the child. They may not adequately deal with disclosures from young children or generally appropriately oversee children who are under their care.
Abuse can leave serious and long-lasting effects on those who have suffered, and cases need to be handled in a caring, sensitive and compassionate manner, as they can be extremely complex and emotional for the victim of abuse and their loved ones.
We will handle your case with the utmost compassion and sensitivity, taking into account your feelings and wellbeing throughout. If you would like to talk to us about your case, then please get in touch…