What is significant harm in relation to children and why am I being accused of it?

Significant harm can take many forms. For the purposes of care proceedings they are generally one of the following but are not limited to:

1.  Physical Harm.

This could be that your child/children have sustained injuries whilst in your care and the Local Authority are concerned about your ability to safely care for your child/children.  It does not necessarily mean that you have caused the injuries, however, that is one of the options. The other could be that they believe that you have failed to stop them from getting hurt. This is known as "failure to protect". This can include not seeking medical attention for your child/children, not providing them with enough stimulation to meet their developmental needs which stops them developing in an age appropriate way. 

2.  Emotional Harm.

This can be caused by a number of factors. It can include, but is not limited to, failing to  provide your child/children with love and affection, or with enough  stimulation and age appropriate toys, or allowing your child/children to witness arguments from your relationships with partners or family members and domestic violence incidents, shouting at or threatening your child/children, subjecting your child/children to neglectful parenting, not meeting your child/children’s day to day basic care needs and failing to be there for your child/children  when they need you the most. 

3.  Neglect.

This means that the Local Authority feel that you are unable to meet your child/children's day to day basic care needs. This list can be quite extensive.  This can include failing to ensure that they are fed, failing to ensure that they are looked after and that their home environment is stable, clean, tidy and free from risk of harm, failing to protect them from risks presented by other people and failing to make sure that they are clean and tidy, not taking them to medical appointments and not making sure that they go to school if they are of school age which means that they fall behind in their school work, or failing to supervise your child/children properly, so that they harm themselves. It can also include not providing your child/children with support and stimulation by having appropriate toys which can result in them suffering from developmental delay. 

4.  Sexual Harm.

This means that your child/children are subjected to sexual abuse or witnesses any form of sexual abuse whilst they are in your care.  This may be because the Local Authority believe that you may have abused your child/children or that you have allowed someone else to subject your child/children to this abuse whilst they were in your care.  It could even be that you have allowed your child/children to watch or witness sexual activity.

If you have been accused of any of these, you may need advice from a solicitor as the social services may want to get involved with you and your family. 

How we can help?

At Smith Partnership, we can help you throughout the Local Authority’s involvement. We have Solicitors across the East Midlands who are experienced in child protection matters, If you would like to discuss this further please contact us on 0330 123 1229.

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