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Essay On Child Abuse Cases That Brings Changes In Policy & Legislation


Task: Write a detailed essay relating two high profile child abuse cases in relation to developments and changes to current law and policy.


The term child abuse can be described as a variety of harmful actions and behaviours directed against children which can take many forms. In general, child abuse is a psychological perversion or problem of the abuser who is the perpetrator of the abuse. The key aspect of identifying child abuse is to report the abuse or the risk of abuse and prevent it from happening. One of the key reasons for the identification of child abuse is to protect the children from exploitation.

The legislation of The Children’s Act 2004, offers the backbone for the reforms which are based on the services of children. The primary aim of the legislation is to integrate and improve the services for children while promoting strong leadership, early interventions among the pool of various specialists in the multidisciplinary teams in order to achieve a positive outcome for the young children and people along with their families. The children can also be supported by abiding by the Child Safeguarding Practise Review Panel (2018), through books such as Working Together (2018) and significantly through the assistance of media reporting since it is the role of the reporters at the social level to inform fact-based and true information regarding the status of the child. Media is significantly vital in cases related to child abuse and through providing reliable information the reports and sources portrayed by the media can have significant importance on the betterment of children. The first high-profile case of child abuse chosen for this essay is the case of Peter Connelly also known as Baby P a British boy of seventeen-month who died in 2007 in London subsequently suffering from more than fifty injuries in the period of eight-month. The second case study chosen for this essay is that of Daniel Pelka a four-year-old boy who was killed on the 3rd of March, 2012 in Coventry, England, United Kingdom. Daniel was murdered by his mother and her partner after a period of sustained abuse. This was caused due to delays in the sharing of information by agencies as well as insufficient training and staffing problems leading to the failure of the intervention in the case of the four-year-old boy who died of a head injury

Case of Daniel Pelka
As per the BBC news reported in 2014, a four-year-old boy Daniel Pelak was beaten and starved by his mother and her boyfriend at their home. The article highlights that desperate attempts of the boy towards forage for food, weightloss, and multiple injuries were observed by the staff at his school before his death(BBC News, 2014). It has also been highlighted by the article that the petition was quickly started demanding the new law to remove uncertainty over how the professionals should act in such, where the petition was promptly supported the mass of people, promoting the campaign 'Open Dialogue’.It was Paula Barrow, a mother of two children from Manchester, who started the petition, who felt confident about the petition when it was encouraged by many people, wherein the campaigns were taken seriously by the ministers. The Express-News also reportedthat the child was kept locked within the room, like a virtual prisoner, where he was fed salt and beaten routinely(, 2013). The report stated that school staff and the social workers were misled and deceived by the web of lies by Magdalena Luczak and her boyfriend Mariusz Krezolek. Analyzing the reports presented by both the articles, it has been identified that Daniel Pelak falls under the victim of child abuse where the school staff and the social workers fulfil their professional duty of care because the incident happened under the observation of the school staff as well as other social workers. There have been various claims that the school staff, teachers, and social workers, who noticed the deteriorating health and condition of Daniel, could have saved the poor child if they would have reported or warned the parents of Daniel. Hence, the boy from Coventry died from a head injury after suffering emotional abuse and cruelty for months at the hands of his mother. Though the parents of the boy were immediately taken into custody, however, the question of prior reporting from the school staff and social workers in order to save the life of the innocent child remained in the heart of millions, while questioning and challenging the laws and regulations.

Case of Baby Peter
The case of Baby Peter was reported in the article called "The Guardian", which reported the tangled family history of Baby Peter case. Baby Peter, commonly known as Baby P, suffered at the hands of his career and he was reported to suffer from a broken back, gashes of the head, ripped ear, fractured shinbone, and many cuts and wounds across his body before death(Anthony, 2017). It is reported to be one of the most disturbing cases of a boy's death, which stands out due to the failure of the local authority. Before his death, Baby P was taken to hospital with several injuries on many occasions, and also examined by around 60 professionals, who failed to notice the broken back and paraplegia of the boy. This case was also reported by BBC News, stating that Baby Peter, a 17-month-old boy died after suffering a series of injuries, wherein the injuries in the body and face of the poor boy were missed by the social worker, who deliberately smeared the boy with chocolate for hiding his injuries and bruises(BBC News, 2013). Hence, on 3rd August 2007, Baby P was found dead in his cot, and on November 11, 2008, Owen and Barker were found guilty for the death of Baby P. They were sentenced to indefinite detention after being found guilty. The case of Baby P also raised many questions regarding the safety of the children to be expected from the state agencies. The report also highlights the points that there are many cases similar to Baby P, where many children have been suffering, but it is still unknown to the authorities. However, the Baby P case came into highlight only because the case indicated the negligence of the local authority.

Key events in the case
In the case of Daniel Pelka, Daniel is considered to be murdered by his mother, along with her boyfriend. Daniel was kept starving for a long period of around 6 months, wherein within this period he was assaulted, abused, and neglectedroutinely. The abuse was suspected to begin to form at the starting of 2021 when his arm was broken, but there was no medical evidence, wherein the social worker, who was carrying out an assessment but, it was not continued for the need of intervention. When he began school in 2011, he was always noticed to be hungry and had unexplainable marks and bruises by the school staff. He was also taken to the pediatrician in 2012 for his poor health condition, but his parents deliberately tortured him while deceiving and misleading the professionals(Socialcare. wales, 2013). Hence, the case highlights the need of the professionals and the social workers to think the unthinkable, while believing and acting upon what they saw before them, rather than accepting the parental version and their stories solely. Hence, Daniel became the victim of domestic abuse and died eventually while raising a question of child protection acts and duty in the contemporary era.

In the case of Baby P, the innocent child suffered neglect and physical abuse by his parents. When Baby P was returned to his mother in 2007, the social service fail to notice her boyfriend has also moved with her, and get off Baby P's name from the child protection register. However, despite several attempts, the social workers failed to save the child; however, which gave a lesson to the social agencies(Jones, 2018). Hence the negligence of the social workers, agencies, and other professionals were also blamed for neglecting their duty of care, which eventually highlight both the cases on the bigger picture that was supported by thousands of people across the nation, along with the demand for the formation of new laws and policy for the protection of the children from such physical assault, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, etc. Such terrible actions of parents and caretakers have graven the while questioning to humanity.

Relation of the cases with the big picture
About six months formerly the case of baby Peter was made public a notable dip was found in the Section 31 submissions made by LAs. The number of Section 31 submissions however began to rise in the quarter of July to September in the year 2008 which continued to rise after the case was made public in 2008 November. The survey respondents also reported an upsurge in the applications of Section 31 made in their LA after the publication of the case of Baby Peter. The bigger picture in this situation is the protection of children and prevention of child abuse which was achieved initially through the publication of this case since after the case was made public there was significant growth in the number of children that were being positioned on child protection plans. Under the Children Act Section 31 local authorities can apply for supervision or care orders for children who they believe are likely to suffer or suffer from significant harm(Jones, 2019). After the publication of the case of Baby Peter, there was a significant increase in the number of applications for Section 31 made by English LAs. In addition to that, the other significant changes which occurred after the case of Baby Peter include a higher acute sensitive approach towards issues regarding child protection among the public as well as the professionals in services that are related. The impacts which were experienced by English LAs after the case of baby Peter vary in terms of diversity and intensity. One of the basic reasons for the abuse of baby Peter was negligence from the authorities which led to the horrific death of the two-year-old. Through this case, it is known that there is a need for better training and attention of the authorities to avoid future cases of child abuse and ensure proper protection of children.

In the case of the murder of David Pelka, the council stated that daniel's death led to the introduction of numerous changes for the improvement of the system in order to safeguard the children. These changes include multi-agency sessions of training for new and existing staff to improve in terms of identifying the causes of emotional abuse and neglect. The report of Daniel Pelka showed that the workers in various key agencies comprising of police, health, and most prominently the school failed to take action which was further compounded by Daniel's lack of spoken English. The medical experts stated that the emaciation of Daniel was unprecedented in Britain and linked his condition with a concentration camp victim. According to Eccleston (2016), two petitions called on obligatory reporting for employees working with children have been introduced in the House of Commons. Mandatory Law is also known as Daniel's Law will work towards supporting specialists to report the known or suspected abuse of a child for assessment to the local authority which came after 200,000 people backed the introduction of the law. In this case, media played a significant role in gaining the attention of people bringing the required petitions into operation.

Changes in law and policy due to the tragedy
The case of Baby Peter changed legislation with more recommendations to social workers, more children with plans of child safety, more investigations of child protection, and more care proceedings in the courts for the decisions made to confiscate children from their families and increased number of children in the local councils' care(Jones, 2013). The government of the UK as a response to the case of baby Peter set up social work task force as well as Social Work Reform Board to fix the recruitment, training, and selection processes of the profession and make it fit for the purpose it stands for. After the case of baby Peter, there was a significant increase in the Section 31 applications reporting against child abuse. The large numbers of surveys of child protection plans were categorized into four sections of physical and emotional abuse and showed multiple registrations showing 6.5% of sexual abuse, 48.4% of physical, 22.6% of emotional abuse, and 67.7% of negligence as shown in the diverse survey conducted in the year 2008 after the publication of baby Peter's case(McNicoll, 2017).
The case of Daniel Pelka highlights the urgent requirement for new regulation needing the mandatory reporting of cases of child abuse for people that work with children since this legislation already exists in other countries. Daniel's murder propagated towards the establishment of the campaign for the creation of Daniel's law which will be functional for aiding children that are distressed by reporting the abuse of the child as in other countries. The campaign was created soon after the publication of the murder of Daniel and has been signed by a great number of people. The review of the case shows how social services and education failed Daniela which could have been mitigated with the increased level of supervision and attention (Elgot, 2013).

Anthony, A. (2017). Baby P: born into a nightmare of abuse, violence, and despair, he never stood a chance. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022]. BBC News (2013). Timeline of Baby P case. BBC News. [online] 8 Oct. Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022].

BBC News (2014). Daniel Pelka abuse petition gets 100,000 signatures. BBC News. [online] 15 Apr. Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022]. Eccleston, B. (2016). Daniel Pelka: New law for those working with children makes progress. [online] coventrytelegraph. Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022]. Elgot, J. (2013). HuffPost is now a part of Verizon Media. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022]. (2013). Daniel's Law "would not save the boy." [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022].

Jones, R. (2013). Baby P legacy five years on: what has been the impact on child protection. The Guardian. [online] 11 Nov. Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022].

Jones, R. (2019). IMPACT CASE STUDY: The story of “Baby P.” [online] Transforming Society. Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022]. Jones, S. (2018). Baby P's death: "They rubbed chocolate on his face to hide the bruises." [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022]. McNicoll, A. (2017). Baby P 10 years on: social work’s story. [online] Community Care. Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022]. Socialcare. wales (2013). Practice case review 9: Daniel Pelka. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022].


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