All children, regardless of their age, gender, ability, race, or sexual orientation, have the right to be safe and feel safe. Organisations whose work impacts children and young people have a responsibility to ensure children and young people are protected from harm.
This involves the active implementation of child safeguarding mechanisms to ensure organisations are safe and free of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Setting up and following good safeguarding policies and procedures means that organisations can more effectively prevent harm to children and young people, are more alert to signs of risk, and can more effectively respond should harm occur.
What does safeguarding mean?
Safeguarding is the action that an organisation or group takes to promote the welfare of children who spend time, participate in or are impacted by their organisation or group - and protect them from harm. This is an obligation of all organisations or groups who interact with children and young people – whether directly or indirectly.
Safeguarding actions include those that the organisation or group takes to:
- protect children from abuse and neglect
- prevent harm to children’s health and wellbeing
- ensure children have a voice in decisions that affect them
- empower children to reach their full potential
- actively promote the inclusion and participation of children
- build a child safe culture and environment.
What is the difference between child safeguarding and child protection?
Child protection is part of the safeguarding process. It focuses on protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This includes child protection procedures which detail how to respond to concerns about a child.1
Child safeguarding refers to the broad range of activity organisations must take to promote the safety and wellbeing of children, and prevent harm.2 Effective child safeguarding must be embedded in the interactions that children have with an organisation or group. Safeguarding policy and procedure must also specify requirements for how organisational representatives respond to risk and harm, including abuse or harm that has been experienced by a child or young person outside the organisation.
What are some examples of safeguarding measures?
Developing effective safeguarding policies, procedures and systems
In order to ensure an organisation and the work that it produces, are safe for children and young people, it is essential that there are effective, well understood, widely accessible and regularly reviewed policies, procedures and systems. Policies and procedures should be produced so that children, young people and their families can easily understand an organisation’s approach to safeguarding.
Undertaking a child safety review
A child safety review is a good way to identify what you are already doing well, expose any potential gaps in child safeguarding, and to also establish a baseline against which you can measure future progress.
Creating opportunities for children and young people to participate and provide feedback
Research shows that children experience safety differently to adults. Children are more likely to feel valued and speak up in environments where they are empowered and are taken seriously.
Building child safe capacity in staff, volunteers and leadership teams
Provide appropriate training and coaching to ensure leaders, staff and volunteers have the knowledge, skills and confidence to develop and implement a child safeguarding framework, ensure relevant legislation and principles are met, and respond effectively to any issues that may arise.
Who is responsible for safeguarding children?
Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility. Building and maintaining a child safe environment and culture is an ongoing process, one that all staff, volunteers and leaders must contribute to, from boardroom to basement.
A concerted focus by organisations and groups whose work impacts children and young people is necessary to ensure their safety and wellbeing. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Childcare centres and early childhood services
- Out-of-home care services
- Hospitals and other health services
- Local government
- Youth justice and corrective services
- Churches and other religious organisations
- Art and cultural organisations
- Sports clubs and recreation services
- Charities and other not-for-profit organisations
- Coaching and tuition services
- Gyms and entertainment facilities
- Youth organisations
- Disability service providers
- Social media companies
- Corporate services
- Retail outlets
- Hospitality venues
- Employment services
How can I learn more about safeguarding?
Child Wise provides bespoke services that can help you develop a deeper understanding of child safeguarding across your organisation, and strengthen your policy and practice. We can also help you develop policy, procedures, systems or design a holistic child safeguarding framework specific to your organisation’s context and needs.
If you would like to learn more, contact us to speak to one of our child safeguarding experts on 1300 CHILD WISE or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 NSPCC, 2021, ‘Safeguarding children and child protection’, https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/safeguarding-child-protection