children in need section 17 Childrens act

Last reviewed 01/2018

Significant harm is defined by this Act as:

  • physical, mental or sexual ill treatment
  • physical or mental impairment of health
  • physical, behavioural, emotional, intellectual or social impairment of development

In each of these cases, there is a comparison with what could reasonably be expected of a similar child.


  • Children in Need Section 17
    • children who are defined as being in need , under section 17 of the Children Act 1989,are those whose vulnerability is such that they are unlikely to reach or maintain a satisfactory level of health or development, or their health and development will be significantly impaired, without the provision of services plus those who are disabled

  • Significant harm Section 47 (Child Protection)
    • there are no absolute criteria on which to rely when judging what constitutes significant harm. Consideration of the severity of ill treatment may include the degree and the extent of physical harm, the duration and frequency of abuse and neglect, the extent of premeditation, and the presence or degree of threat, coercion, sadism and bizarre or unusual elements


  • Bristol CCG Safeguarding Children Policy (Accessed 12/3/2014).
  • Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. Child Safeguarding Policy (Accessed 12/3/2014).
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010)
  • The Children Act 1989 and 2004.