This chapter echoes the previous one in adopting a broad definition. With regard to the law, it is child care rather than child abuse which is the appropriate term; in fact child abuse has not been used in legal terminology at all although it does appear once as a section heading in the latest legislation (Children Act, 1989, Schedule 2, Para. 4.) The concerns of child care law have generally been threats to children's welfare and how to reduce them as well as what services are needed to promote welfare; thus the twin themes of promotion and protection occur and recur.
More specifically the factors in question have been and still are parents' actions, state actions and children's rights and these can be viewed positively or negatively. So legislation could focus on reducing state powers if they were a threat to children or increasing them to promote welfare, and the same would apply to parents' activities. Children's rights are not straightforward; it might be that increasing them could raise difficult protection issues. These themes will be explored within two frameworks; first, a set of perspectives developed by Harding (1991) and secondly, a complementary set proposed by the author to identify five main areas of concern in legislation.
The first part of the chapter will consider the period 1933 to 1989 and the main child care legislation enacted then. The second part will analyse in detail the important new Children Act of 1989 which was implemented in full in October 1991. These areas are well covered in the literature: Packman (1981) reviews much of the earlier period; Holman (1988) provides additional analysis with an emphasis on preventive themes; Hoggett (1987) has a concise and comprehensive summary of the law that existed until just before the new Act; Parton (1985) considers law in terms of child abuse