To this day the US has no equivalent. The US legal framework for child abuse is antiquated, illogical, and deeply flawed.
In the UK there is a system that works rather well – it’s called The Children Today Act 2000. It requires all UK parents and carers to report to a professional. The child abuse referral team (CART), which has an excellent hotline number, works with the local police to prevent abuse. They do not just come around and harass parents, they work with the family or carers to discuss this with the child or carer, then make a referral so that the child or carer can go ahead and contact the appropriate professionals.
It’s a more effective approach to child safeguarding than a system the US calls the Protection from Hurt Child Act, which is less effective and less clear. The Protection from Hurt child act only applies to US children (and, to some extent, UK children, since it is only applicable to parents), but in the UK we have a much better system of reporting abuse – the Child Abuse Inquiry team (CAB), established in 1989, does the most good in the UK. The CAB works with the local police, the local schools and other groups that are involved in the child’s life, to support the young person. They do not just check whether the child is being abused, but also find out what else needs to be done, from changing educational and childcare arrangements, to meeting and discussing with local welfare workers the possibility of any intervention.
The CAB uses its resources to intervene with, as much as possible, any abuse that occurs in schools and early years care. It’s also good at spotting and exposing abuse which occurs before it leads to further abuse. This, I suspect, explains why the CAB was set up by the authorities, for the authorities.
There is one big reason the UK does far better: We have no child welfare law whatsoever. The UK is one of the few countries in the world which is able to put a system in place to deal with child abuse and neglect without a separate act of Parliament. The CAB and other child abuse committees work together, the CAB is the liaison between the police and the children and their families. It protects the child, it helps the family to understand what’s going on, and it makes clear what to do if they feel the professionals are not doing enough. The agencies involved are there for the children as well as the families.
The UK only has a few provisions in place. A very small proportion of parents are able to bring children into the system. Children who come into contact with adults in danger of abuse or neglect may be referred to social services. There are other safeguards such as mandatory reporting and training of social workers on how to identify and report child abuse. But there is no national system for child protection.