Birth registration: All births must be registered within 42 days in the district where the baby was born, and unregistered births were uncommon. Local authorities have procedures for the late registration of babies. A child born in the UK receives the country’s citizenship at birth if one of the parents is a British citizen or legally settled resident. Children born in Northern Ireland may opt for British, Irish, or dual citizenship. A child born in an overseas territory is a British overseas territories citizen if at least one of the child’s parents has citizenship. There are special provisions for granting citizenship for persons who might otherwise be stateless. Overseas territories citizens have some restrictions regarding their ability to live and work within the UK; similarly, there are some restrictions on British citizens living and working in the overseas territories. However, Bermudians with UK passports may live and work in the UK without restrictions.
Child Abuse: The UK government did not publish specific statistics on the incidence of child abuse every year, but it actively combated child abuse through policies to protect children from abusive adults, overhauling child protection services, and encouraging better reporting of abuse crimes.
Child protection registers contain confidential details of children who are at continuing risk of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect, and for whom there is a child protection plan. Registers cover each local authority area in the UK and are managed by individual social services departments. The latest figures available from March 2010 showed 46,705 children on child protection registers in the UK. Of these, 39,100 were in England, 2,357 in Northern Ireland, 2,518 in Scotland, and 2,730 in Wales.
In Northern Ireland 663 cases of child abuse were reported between July 2010 and June. During this period children made up 17 percent of the total number of victims of violent crime and 56 percent of the total number of victims of sexual offenses, according to the PSNI.
In Bermuda in 2010, the latest date for which statistics were available, there were 111 cases of physical abuse of children up to the age of 18. The Department of Child and Family Services substantiated 48 of the physical abuse cases. Of the rest, 34 cases were unsubstantiated, 22 were suspected, and seven were pending.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a leading NGO, reported that incidents of child abuse and mistreatment in the UK dropped significantly over the last decade. The NSPCC concluded that public education campaigns, heightened public awareness, and high levels of media coverage of child abuse have led to a positive attitudinal shift in how people treat children.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The minimum age of consensual sex in the UK is 16. In Bermuda the legal minimum age for consensual sex is 16 for heterosexuals and lesbians and 18 for gay men.
There are strict penalties for sexual offenses against children and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The law also prohibits child sex tourism and allows authorities to prosecute citizens or residents for offenses committed abroad. Some sexual offenses carry penalties up to life imprisonment. Anyone convicted of sexual offenses must register with the police. Registrants are required to notify police any time they change their name or address, or travel outside of the UK.
As of March 2010, 34,939 individuals were registered as sexual offenders in England and Wales; however, this figure did not distinguish between offenses against adults and children. The Home Office reported that 32 percent of all sexual crimes (including rape, sexual assault, sexual activity, and sexual grooming) recorded during the year, or 17,727 incidents, were committed against children under 16. In Bermuda 115 cases of sexual abuse of children up to the age of 18 were recorded in 2010.
International Child Abductions: The UK including Bermuda is party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Due to its distinct and separate legal system, Scotland has its own independent body for dealing with Hague Convention cases and communicates directly with Hague Convention authorities. For information on international parental child abduction, see the Department of State’s report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/resources/congressreport/congressreport_4308.html as well as country-specific information at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/country/country_533.html.