The number of child protection laws in the United Kingdom has increased in recent years, however, this has not been controversy. Child protection laws have often evolved from tragic cases and ensuing enquiries. Until the Children Act 1989, UK laws regarding children were scattered through the statute books. However, the aim of the Children Act was to bring together the laws regulating all areas of children's lives under one umbrella. To an extent, this has simplified matters in the UK.
The Children Act 1989
family image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
The Children Act 1989 was a major piece of legislation. It established the paramountcy principle, whereby the welfare of the child became the overriding concern when making legal decisions, e.g., in divorce cases. The Children Act also stated that children should not be taken away from their natural parents until all efforts have been made to maintain the family. This appears flawed, as some tragic cases have occurred. Some recent cases have indicated that it would have been better if the children had been taken away from their parents.
The Criminal Records Bureau
As a result of a tragic case, all people in the UK with access to children have to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. This is fairly costly and time-consuming, and it has added an additional burden to school and head teachers' workloads. However, the main criticism is that it can engender a false sense of security because a person who goes on to harm children does not always have a criminal record.
The CRB checking system has been taken further with the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act of 2006. As a result of this act, adults who have less close contact with children also have to have a CRB check. This has led to much controversy. For example, well known children's author, Philip Pullman strongly objected to having to have a check before giving talks to children in schools.