History of Child Protection

Children’s Charter

The “Children’s Charter” was passed in 1889 which was the first parliamentary law in Britain for safeguarding the rights of children. This was the first time in history that the law could intervene if a child was mistreated. Mistreating children was punishable under the law and it was no longer a family matter if the parents mistreated their children. Police could arrest people for mistreating and even could obtain search warrants to enter search premises if they thought that a child’s wellbeing or life was in danger. The law also made it a crime to employ underage children and the law also outlawed begging by children at the behest of their parents.

In 1894 there were further improvements and extensions in the law which allowed children to give evidence in court and anyone who denied a sick child medical attention could be punished by law. Further amendments in 1908 also established juvenile courts and made it compulsory for foster parents to obtain registration for the care of children. Incest also came under the jurisdiction of the law and was not left at the discretion of the clergy. In 1932 parliament enforced the “The Children and Young Person’s Act” which gave the juvenile courts more powers who then implemented the act for the supervision of children who were presumed to be at risk.

In 1933 all laws and acts were collectively collated under one act. In 1948, the Children Act establish a special children’s committee within the precinct of the local law authority and also established the parliamentary care of children’s committee because of the death of 13-year-old Dennis O’Neill  due to maltreatment at the hands of foster parents. In 1970, parliament enacted the Local Authority of Social Services and all local work organizations were integrated into one social services department. The complete absence of cooperation in various departments that had the responsibility for the welfare of children depicted a serious coordination problem.

This inquiry and its subsequent report led to the creation of “area child protection committees” (ACPC’S) which synchronized all agencies responsible for the welfare of children. The 1989 “Children Act” provided legal and social protection to children from exploitation and the legal right for their protection from all manner of abuse. The main principle of this law was that children are safe from harm when they are within their own family environment. In 1991, parliament enacted the act that made it mandatory to carry out a police inquiry when it was suspected or confirmed that the death of a child occurred.


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