What is contextual safeguarding?

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Effective safeguarding of children requires organisations to look beyond the environment they operate in and a child’s home life.

Instead, responsible safeguarding policies and procedures should consider a full range of different contexts where children and young adults could find themselves at risk of serious harm.

This approach to safeguarding children is called contextual safeguarding, let’s find out a little more about what that means.

What does contextual safeguarding mean?

Contextual safeguarding is a method of safeguarding that recognises and understands that children are exposed to risks from a variety of different environments, not just within their home and family. Contextual safeguarding is particularly relevant to adolescents who have more independence than young children.

This approach to safeguarding was first developed in 2011 and recognises that parents may have little influence over some contexts, which may undermine the parent/child relationship. This is what makes it so important that other organisations and institutions that have more influence over these extra-familial contexts practice contextual safeguarding.

If an organisation practices contextual safeguarding, then its safeguarding policies and procedures should recognise the whole range of environments where young people may encounter risks. It should engage with children about the risks and dangers they may encounter in these environments to help to keep them safe.

What does contextual safeguarding cover?

Contextual safeguarding recognises the wide range of environments where children today form relationships and may encounter risk or come to significant harm.

A good way of identifying all relevant environments is by starting conversations with children. Some common extra-familial environments where children and young people may experience significant harm include:

  • Schools or colleges
  • Neighbourhoods
  • Online
  • Peer groups
  • Clubs or kids’ groups

Contextual safeguarding requires organisations to not just look out for signs that a child is at risk of harm within their environment or at home, but to approach safeguarding in a way that understands the other environments and contexts where they may also be at risk.

It also encourages organisations to consider how these extra-familial contexts may influence a child or young person and how this could affect their behaviour in your organisation’s environment.

Who is responsible for contextual safeguarding?

All individuals and organisations that encounter children have a responsibility to safeguard them from harm. Organisations that work with children are required to have a set of safeguarding policies and procedures in place to help to protect children from harm. Employees should be trained in safeguarding and taught to recognise the signs that a young person may be at risk and how to act on this accordingly.

Statutory guidance from the government working together to safeguard children (2018) and keeping children safe in education (2020) both refer to contextual safeguarding.

Safeguarding training with CBAT

Here at Care Business Associate Training, we offer a range of professional safeguarding training courses to provide organisations with the knowledge and skills they require to provide effective protection to children and vulnerable adults.

Browse our courses online or speak to a member of our team by calling 01772 816 922 or emailing admin@cba-training.co.uk.