Back to Safeguarding principles and effective practice: children

Key definitions relevant to safeguarding children

All practitioners should be aware of the definitions of abuse and neglect in the Social Services and Well-being Act (Wales) 2014 as well as the signs and indicators of abuse and neglect. This is essential in order to communicate concerns about harm in a meaningful way.

A child

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and accompanying Guidance define a ‘child’ as a person who is aged under 18.

A child at risk

S.130 (4) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 defines a child at risk as a child who:

  1. Is experiencing or is at risk of abuse, neglect or other kinds of harm;
  2. Has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs).

It is important to note:

Harm

Harm is defined as:

vol 5 Working Together to Safeguard People: Volume 5 – Handling Individual Cases to Protect Children at Risk

Types of harm

The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples for each of the categories of harm, abuse and neglect included in vol 5 Working Together to Safeguard People: Volume 5 – Handling Individual Cases to Protect Children at Risk

Risk from other actual or potential harm to a child or young person may also result from:

Significant harm

Concerns about likely or actual significant harm to a child is the threshold for initiating [s47 enquiries under the Children Act 1989]

There is no statutory definition of significant harm. Therefore, practitioners must:

‘Where the question of whether harm is significant turns on the child’s health or development, the child’s health or development is to be compared with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child (Section 31(9), Children Act 1989.)

Pointers for Practice: Signs and Indicators of Possible Abuse and Neglect in a Child

See also: All Wales Practice Guides