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Under The Children Act 1989 a local authority has a duty to investigate whenever it receives information which may suggest that a child within its area is suffering or is likely to suffer
significant harm. The Act gives the following definitions:

  • Harm – means ill treatment or the impairment of health or development. This definition has been widened to include any impairment of a child’s health or development as a result of witnessing the ill treatment of another person, such as domestic violence
  • Development – means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development
  • Health – means physical or mental health
  • Ill treatment – includes sexual abuse and forms of ill treatment which are not physical

The local authority must make enquiries to enable it to decide what action should be taken to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare.

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