Children’s and Young Persons Act (Children’s Charter) 1908

Children’s and Young Persons Act (Children’s Charter) 1908

The Childrend’s and Young Persons Act of 1908 is popularly known as the Children’s Charter. The Children’s Charter set out to bring together existing legislation and implement improvements in several core areas. This was designed to protect the poorest and most vulnerable children in society.

Children at School, 1908

The main parts of the Children’s Charter legislated on these areas:

  • Cruelty. The act legislated to minimise the risk of Child Cruelty. This build on previous acts of parliament and opened the door to prosecution in further cases. Examples of child cruelty cited are children under the age of seven being left unattended near an open fire and suffocation of children when they sleep in a bed with an intoxicated (drunk) parent.
  • Childminding. The Act made it a requirement for paid childminders to register. Upon doing so they could be inspected by the local authorities. They also were forbidden from taking insurance out on children whom they cared for: this prevented them from profiting from a child’s death or injury.
  • Punishment. Prior to the Children’s Charter children faced the same sentences and punishments as adults if convicted of a crime. Following the Children’s Charter, this changed. No longer was a child subject to Capital Punishment (The Death Penalty) and Children were no longer sent to adult prisons. Instead, they were sent to newly established Borstals.
  • Smoking. A ban on the sale of tobacco to under 16’s was introduced. The Police were given the right to confiscate tobacco from children.
  • Education. The Act promised that children would be entitled to an education.


The Hope is in the Children. Article on Children’s Webmag about the impact of the Charter.

Wikipedia entry for the 1908 Children’s Act.

Guardian timeline of child protection legislation.

National archives. A brief look at the Liberal Reforms and young people.

Hansard. List of Hansard entries referring to the 1908 Children’s Act.

Liberal Reforms - Homepage
Trade Disputes Act 1906Workmens Compensation Act 1906Merchant Shipping Act 1906
Education (Provision of Meals) Act 1906Education (Administrative Provisions) Act 1907Matrimonial Causes Act 1907
Coal Mines Regulation Act 1908Children's and Young Persons Act (Children's Charter) 1908Old Age Pensions Act 1908
Labour Exchange Act 1909Trade Board Act 1909Housing and Town Planning Act 1909
National Insurance Act 1911Shops Act 1911Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act 1912