Child protection vocabulary in the Children Act 1989: power, ambiguity and heterogeneity

Pentaris, Panagiotis and Oresanya, Abiola. 2021. Child protection vocabulary in the Children Act 1989: power, ambiguity and heterogeneity. Greenwich Social Work Review, 2(2), pp. 181-191. ISSN 2633-4313 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Regardless the few decades that an established legislative framework in Child Protection has been in effect, the responsibility of the Law and the Child Protection System is to continuously explore social needs, as they change, transform or new ones are introduced to adapt to the circumstances in the attempts to safeguard and protect children. This paper is not focusing on those adaptations; it draws on this responsibility to argue that in an ever-changing world, wherein needs and demands are shifting, Child Protection Vocabulary needs to be more explicit and adaptive to those changes. Vocabulary like ?best interest?, ?resilience?, ?power?, and ?vulnerability? are commonplace in child protection legislation, regulation, policy and practice. That said, the question of interpretation is always of concern; how are the varied agencies, stakeholders, authorities, groups, and individuals approaching safeguarding and child protection when the heterogeneity of the language used is ever-increasing? This paper provides a conceptual content analysis of Child Protection Vocabulary found in the Children Act 1989. The analysis will be drawing on the amendments in Children Act 2004, as well as the Children and Social Work Act 2017, but will preserve its focus on the Children Act 1989 as the foundation for the contemporary Child Protection System. Implications of the findings are provided at the end.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


child protection; Children Act 1989; safeguarding; social work; welfare

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)
Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS) > Faiths and Civil Society
Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS) > Social Work


2 November 2021Accepted
18 December 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

10 Oct 2022 08:48

Last Modified:

10 Oct 2022 08:49

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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