The Children Act was first introduced in 1989 and was amended in 2004 after an inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie. After the death of eight-year old Victoria Climbie in 2000, Lord Laming was asked by the Government to carry out an investigation to know if new regulation and guidance were needed to develop the safeguard of child system in England. The Government’s answer to the Victoria Climbie Inquiry report (Laming, 2003) was the Keeping children safe report (DfES, 2003) and the Every child matters green paper (DfES, 2003), which in turn led to the Children Act 2004.
This Act’s ultimate purpose is to make the UK better and safer for children of all ages.
The Act also created a Children’s Commissioner;
putting in place services provided to and for children and young people by local authorities and other persons;
dealing with Wales about advisory and support services in regards to family proceedings;
dealing with private fostering, child minding and day care, adoption assessment panels, the explanation of reasonable penalty, the making of allowances as respects children and families, child safety orders, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales,
The publication of material in connection to children dealing in legal cases and the release by the Inland Revenue of data relating to children.
The government aims is for every child whatever their background or their conditions, to have the backing they need to:
be healthy i.e. enjoying good physical and mental health and living a healthy lifestyle;
to stay safe i.e. to be free from harm and negligence;
to enjoy and achieve i.e. to make the most out of life and to develop the skills to become an adult;
to make a positive contribution i.e. to be in touch with the community and society and not taking part in anti-social or criminal conduct;
To achieve economic well-being i.e. not being prohibited by financial difficulty from reaching their full ability in life.
The green paper suggested improvements was into four main areas which are assisting parents and carers, early involvement and effective security, responsibility and combination – locally, regionally and nationally and staff improvement.
It is shown by a study that those smoking regularly aged 11-15 in England has gone down since 1996 from 13 to 10 percent. But obesity level is rising. Between 1996 and 2001 the number of children who were obese having between 6-15 years old in England increase by 4 percent.
Young rates of pregnancy were lower by 10 percent in 2001 than in 1998. But UK still has the most teenage pregnancies in Europe.
The World Health Organisation published a report in 2002 that UK had the least suicide rate amongst 26 countries, but suicide is still responsible for 20 per cent of young deaths.
In March 2002, 59,700 children were in care in England, which is an increase of 22 percent since March 1994. But, the number on child protection registers in England have been decreasing as there were only 25,700 in March 2002 compared to 38,600 ten years earlier.
Between 1981 and 2001 the percentage of young boys in England and Wales reprimanded or sentenced of a crime decreased from 7 per cent of young boys to 5 per cent, but the same rate for girls increased from 1.3 to 1.4 per cent.
A research of criminal and harassment found that 46 percent being the target of some kind of crime in the last 12 months among those aged 11 to 16 in ordinary schools.
In most cases of domestic violence where around one in ten women involved yearly, their children were present in the same or next room, and one in three child safeguard circumstances points to a past of domestic violence against the mother.
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Enjoying and achieving
The number of those aged 11 reaching the normal level in English and maths went up by 12 percent, from 63 percent to 75 percent and from 61 percent to 73 percent in English and maths respectively since 1997.
In 2002 more than half of 15 year olds got a minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, a rise of more than 6 percent since 1997. However success is not steady through diverse ethnic groups like for example pupils from Chinese and Indian backgrounds succeed considerably over regular GCSE results; black pupils and those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds do inferior in their GCSE results.
Non-attendance has stayed the same from 1995/96 at 0.7 percent of half days absent.
At the end of 2001, in every eleven youngsters having 16-18 years old, one was not in education, work or training and in every four youngsters between 16 and 18, one spend time out of education, training and employment.
Making a positive contribution
A new research of secondary students who are 11 to 18 years old showed that 86 percent had taken part in certain sort of community activity in the previous year and half participated in raising fund or gathering cash for charity.
From the 2001 General Election, assessments found that attendance was lowest between those aged 18-24, as only two in five casted their vote.
Between 1992 and 1995, 19 percent of children stayed in working age jobless homes, but in 2003, the percentage had fallen to 15.2.
The percentage of children staying in homes with comparatively low earnings decreased between 1996-97 and 2001-02 from 34 to 30 after housing expenses. The percentage of children staying in homes with virtually low earnings fell largely from 34 percent to 20 percent after housing deductions.
The Children’s Act 2004 established a Children’s Fund which is aimed to support in the abolition of poverty and economic difficulties felt by disadvantaged children or those whose family’s monetary conditions leave them deprived by making sure that children aged between five and thirteen attend school regularly and also decreasing the risk of crime being carried out by these children, so that they can get the best promising start of their life.
The Children’s Act 2004 specially caters for disabled children. Local authorities have a responsibility under the Act to arrange for facilities to ‘children in need’ if these amenities will aid keeping a child safe and healthy.
After the death of baby P, there was a review conducted by Lord Laming which suggested that those dealing with children need to be properly trained to detect any problem so that social workers or other practitioners can better safeguard children under their responsibility.
The Children Act 2004 provides a strong emphasis and a new approach to children’s services but is not sufficient in itself. Its application must be part of an extensive progression of transformation, concentrating on results and brought onward by local transformation packages in 150 Local Authority regions set within a national structure.
The National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (NSF) is fundamental to this. It put forward a ten-year plan to encourage durable and continual progress in children’s health and well-being.
As it is applied by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), Local Authorities and other groups including other health bodies, it will add to the realisation of the five outcomes.