What is Serious Harm?

The States of Guernsey, Children's Services has a general duty to protect the welfare of children and to begin enquiries when a child is at risk of compulsory intervention. This page sets out the grounds for when such enquiries may be necessary.

Grounds for compulsory intervention include:


For certain protective measures to be taken there must be evidence that a child is suffering or at risk of suffering 'serious harm' (Emergency Child Protection Order, Exclusion Order, Police Powers of Protection) or 'significant harm' (Secure Accommodation Order).

Not all harm will be serious or significant.  It is difficult for a qualitative term such as serious or significant to be accurately defined and it is not defined in the Children's (Guernsey and Alderney) Law, 2008.

Sometimes a single traumatic event may constitute serious harm to a child.  A build up of concerns or a series of incidents over time could give rise to serious harm.  Some children live in family and social circumstance where their health and development are neglected.  For them it is the gradual wearing down caused by the lack of good-enough parenting which is so damaging.

When assessing if a child might be at risk of serious or significant harm there is a need to consider: