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Last updated: 03.03.20

How to Safeguard Children

At its most fundamental, safeguarding children is about keeping children safe from abuse and harm. This is everyone’s responsibility from teachers and carers to parents and guardians, and because of the sensitive and upsetting nature of child abuse, a comprehensive understanding of the topic is essential.

In this blog post, we look into what exactly goes into safeguarding children, including the principles behind safeguarding on the whole, as well as how to spot indications of abuse and how to prevent abuse of young people.

What is safeguarding?

The official definition can be found in the UK government guide to safeguarding children, which reads as follows:

‘The process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care that enables children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully’.

In general terms then, safeguarding is the process of preventing the harm and abuse of children, both with regards to their health and their development. This starts with the parents or legal guardians, and extends to those who work with children, including social workers, medical practitioners and teachers.

Safeguarding practices

The answer to the question of how to safeguard children varies according to the scenario and the safeguarder’s relationship with the child. There are, however, several aspects to safeguarding which are common to every situation. Some of these are as follows:

  • Adequate training - When it comes to safeguarding, training should be the first step. Competent training material can teach practitioners to recognise the signs of abuse in children, to follow the reactionary steps and to understand ramifications and implications of child abuse.
  • Organisational action – Whatever your organisation is, there should be a process around suspected cases of child abuse which can be put into place and actioned by every level of care. This organisational process should be regularly reviewed to maximise and ensure its efficiency.
  • Understanding relationships – Safeguarding children from child abuse requires an understanding of how to talk to children about upsetting subjects. It also needs practitioners and workers to encourage children to approach responsible adults with their problems.
  • Legal Awareness – Child abuse is illegal, and as with most illegal activities, there are a web of legal issues that arise with it. A key component of good safeguarding comes from an understanding of these legal issues and the role they place in preventing child harm and abuse.

When it comes to safeguarding, an understanding of how to efficiently carry out safeguarding duties is vital. Virtual College’s Introducing Child Safeguarding provides a comprehensive and informative rundown of the many parts that make up this multifaceted topic. Find out more information here.

You can also check out our useful and informative downloadable resources, including this infographic on the signs of child abuse, and this video on safeguarding children.