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5.29 Children whose Behaviour Indicates a Lack of Parental Control


This chapter highlights the issues and what needs to be considered when a child's behaviour comes to the attention of the community in a specific or general way. It could be the symptom of neglect or abuse and requires a multi - agency approach when considering the threshold and options.


This chapter was fully updated in August 2014 to include the range of powers that should be considered when there are concerns about a child's behaviour.

When children are brought to the attention of the Police or the wider community because of their behaviour, this may be an indication of vulnerability, poor supervision or neglect in its wider sense. It is important to consider whether these are Children in Need and to offer them assistance and services that reflect their needs. These children may be suffering, or likely to suffer, Significant Harm. This could be through Physical, Sexual or Emotional Abuse, and / or Neglect. (See Single Assessments (including Section 47 Enquiries) Procedure).

This should be done on a multi-agency basis. A range of powers should be used to engage families to improve the child's behaviour where engagement cannot be secured on a voluntary basis.

Children may participate in the neglect or mistreatment of a vulnerable adult within their family. Professionals in safeguarding adults' and children's teams should work together to protect both Adults at Risk and children.

The Child Safety Order (CSO) is a compulsory intervention available below the threshold of the child suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm. A Local Authority can apply for a CSO where a child has committed an act that would have been an offence if (s)he were aged 10 or above, where it is necessary to prevent such an act, or where the child has caused harassment, distress or harm to others (i.e. behaved anti-socially). It is designed to help the child improve his or her behaviour, and is likely to be used alongside work with the family and others to address any underlying problems.

These children's needs should be assessed and they should receive an appropriate multi-agency response. A range of powers should be used to engage families to improve the child's behaviour where engagement cannot be secured on a voluntary basis.

  • A Parenting Order can be made alongside a CSO or when a CSO is breached; this provides an effective means of engaging with and supporting parents, while helping them develop their ability to undertake their parental responsibilities. A parenting order consists of two elements;
  • A requirement on the parent to attend counselling or guidance sessions (for example, parenting education or parenting support classes). This is the core of the parenting order and lasts for three months;
  • A requirement on the parent to comply with such requirements as are determined necessary by the court. This element can last up to 12 months; and
  • An education related parenting order - this is a civil court order which consists of the same two elements as standard parenting orders, except that they focus specifically on improving the behaviour and attendance of the child. Parent Support Advisers can be used instead of or as support for, an education related parenting order.