Taking care of children is one of the most important roles one will ever take on. Whether you are part of an organisation or individually come into contact with children on a regular basis, it’s important to be aware of the safeguarding policies and procedures. Children of all backgrounds have an equal right to protection from danger.
Safeguarding policies create a framework that ensures that any voluntary or community organisations, schools and other entities in the public or private sectors that come into contact with children follow the necessary procedures to maintain a safe, healthy environment.
According to the UK government, safeguarding children refers to the process of protecting children from abuse and neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provisions of safe and effective care that enables children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.
What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding is more than just a theoretical approach to ensuring children are well taken care of – it is an action. It is a framework that drives action and prioritises the overall wellbeing of society’s most vulnerable children. Safeguarding addresses the following main points: protecting children from abuse and maltreatment; preventing harm to children’s health or development; ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care; as well as taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes.
As such, child protection is at the centre of safeguarding measures. It addresses individual children who have been identified as endangered or likely to suffer harm. Not only does child protection outline preventative measures, it also deals with how to respond to concerns about a child who has a history of abuse.
The UK government drafted six key principles of safeguarding that can also be implemented in child protection strategies:
It is important for caregivers to create an environment that empowers children to have autonomy over their own decisions, allowing them to say 'no' or speak up when faced with uncomfortable positions.
Children, especially those who are victims of abuse, need to be provided with the support they need to prevent further abuse. These need to be key measures such as access to healthcare, provision of social workers and other key child protection services.
Caregivers need to ensure that they prevent abuse or harm of any kind from happening to children in their care. This can be done through training staff, raising awareness of abuse and making sure that there is enough information and it is easily accessible.
Similar to risk assessment, proportionality ensures that all individuals in the organisation are taken into account when dealing with issues of abuse and safeguarding. Some individuals may face different levels of risk and this needs to be understood and mitigated as much as possible in order to create a safe space and prevent further abuse.
Safeguarding and ensuring successful child protection requires more hands on deck. By forming partnerships with key stakeholders, local communities and relevant entities (NGOs, social workers, health care etc.), abuse, and those guilty of it can be more easily identified, aiding towards the prevention of further abuse. Partnerships allow for everyone to work together in creating a safe environment within and beyond the organisation.
Partnerships also reinforce that we are all accountable for the safety of the children around us. Everyone has a role to play towards ensuring the safeguarding and protection of the most vulnerable members of our communities. As such, accountability is about taking responsibility for our actions and ensuring that we remain aware of abusive actions, not only to identify them but also to not inflict the same violent behaviour on those around us.
Playing your part
If your organisation is involved in child care, understanding and implementing policies around safeguarding children is crucial to establishing a safe environment for the children in your care. Discover more about what your organisation can do to protect all those in your care with our Safeguarding Children courses.