Significant Harm Definition

Under sections 31(9) and (10) of the Children Act 1989 as amended by the Adoption and Children Act 2002:

Where the question of whether harm suffered by a child is significant turns on the child’s health and development, his health or development shall be compared with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child.  

  • 'harm' means ill-treatment or the impairment of health or development (including, for example, impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another),
  • 'development' meant physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development;
  • 'health' means physical or mental health; and
  • 'ill-treatment' includes sexual abuse and forms of ill-treatment which are not physical.

For more details see Adcock, M. and White, R. (1998). Significant Harm: its management and outcome.