Child welfare legislation regarding access to dental treatment: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

Information on legislation regarding child welfare, child wellbeing, child abuse, child neglect, child safeguarding, specifically:

1. Legislation specifying that IF a child has full access to proper timely dental treatment, and they are not being denied access to proper timely dental treatment by their parents/guardians, and they get cavities, "tooth decay", that this does breach the legal child protection thresholds ("at risk of significant harm").

2. Legislation specifying that a child that has full, timely access to proper dental care, and their parents/guardians are not denying the child full access to proper, timely dental care, it is "Child Abuse" and/or "Neglect" if the child has cavities, "tooth decay".


Legislation in relation to child welfare, child wellbeing, child abuse, child neglect, child safeguarding in Scotland includes the following:

  • Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 - Section 12 relates to the criminal offence of child cruelty – “wilfully ill-treats, neglects, abandons, or exposes him, or causes or procures him to be ill-treated, neglected, abandoned, or exposed, in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health (including injury to or loss of sight, or hearing, or limb, or organ of the body, and any mental derangement)”.
  • Children (Scotland) Act 1995 – Section 1 relates to the responsibility of parents in the safeguarding and promotion of their child's health, development and welfare. This Act also clarifies that in any court case or Children’s Hearing regarding children, the welfare of the child is paramount.
  • Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 - in terms of section 67(2)(a), the children’s reporter can decide whether to refer a child to a children’s hearing on the ground of lack of parental care – but the reporter must be satisfied that the child “is likely to suffer unnecessarily, or the health or development of the child is likely to be seriously impaired, due to a lack of parental care”.

However, no legislation would seek to be so restrictive by specifically including potential indicators of risk, such as those that you describe.

The National guidance for child protection in Scotland 2021 - ( describes the responsibilities and expectations of everyone who works with children, young people and their families in Scotland, and outlines how agencies should work together with parents, families and communities to prevent harm and to protect children from abuse and neglect. Assessing risk and agreeing actions to ensure a child’s safety and wellbeing is a matter for professional judgement, supported by national and local guidance.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top