What is Serious Harm?
Grounds for compulsory intervention include:
- the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant impairment to his health or development,
- the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, sexual or physical abuse.
For certain protective measures to be taken there must be evidence that a child is suffering or at risk of suffering 'serious harm' (Emergency Child Protection Order, Exclusion Order, Police Powers of Protection) or 'significant harm' (Secure Accommodation Order).
Not all harm will be serious or significant. It is difficult for a qualitative term such as serious or significant to be accurately defined and it is not defined in the Children's (Guernsey and Alderney) Law, 2008.
Sometimes a single traumatic event may constitute serious harm to a child. A build up of concerns or a series of incidents over time could give rise to serious harm. Some children live in family and social circumstance where their health and development are neglected. For them it is the gradual wearing down caused by the lack of good-enough parenting which is so damaging.
When assessing if a child might be at risk of serious or significant harm there is a need to consider:
- The seriousness of the concerns (actual or potential) particularly in terms of harm to the child.
- The level of risk to the future safety, development and welfare of the child.
- Whether the child has any special needs
- The level of professional confidence whether abuse has occurred, and is likely to be repeated, or that the child is at risk from the abuse.
- The most effective form of intervention to tackle the child's needs.
- The following should also be considered at the same time:
- How long the abuse has gone on and how severe it is.
- The actual, or potential effect on the child's health, development or welfare.
- The background of any alleged incident.
- Parents or carers capacity to parent, including their history of parenting.
- Parental attitude and willingness to co-operate.
- The presence of any factors that would offer protection to the child for example, extended family living locally that may be able to offer support and help.
- The child's reaction and view.
- Worried about a child?
- Case Conference
- After the Initial Case Conference
- Supplementary Guidance