Safeguarding refers to the process of protecting vulnerable children and adults from neglect and abuse by providing safe and effective care. Anyone under the age of 18 years old classes as a child, and can become a victim of abuse and neglect.

Child Protection is part of safeguarding process in protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This harm can come in many different forms of abuse, this includes:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Neglect

Safeguarding Children

All organisations that come into contact with children should have safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure that every child, regardless of their age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation, has a right to equal protection from harm. This includes voluntary and community organisations, faith groups, private sector providers, as well as schools, hospitals and sports clubs. Setting up and following good safeguarding policies and procedures means children are safe from adults and other children who might pose a risk to them.

Safeguarding, within the context of children, means:

  • Protecting children from abuse and maltreatment
  • Preventing harm to children’s health or development
  • Ensuring children grow up with safe and effective care
  • Taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes in life

Safeguarding children doesn’t just refer to traditional forms of child protection now, and has a more overarching approach to ensure that they can grow up to have optimum life chances and enter into adulthood successfully.

The Every Child Matters campaign formalised these changes in 2004, aiming to improve the outcomes for children in five key areas:

1. Being healthy
2. Staying safe
3. Enjoying and achieving
4. Making a positive contribution
5. Achieving economic well-being

Legislation in place

• The Care Act 2014 requires that each local authority must:
– Lead a multi-agency local adult safeguarding system that seeks to prevent abuse and neglect in the first place, and stop it quickly when it does occur
– Make enquiries when they suspect a vulnerable adult may be at risk of abuse or neglect and they need to find out what action may be needed to support and protect them
– Establish safeguarding adults boards. This means the local authorities, the NHS and police work together to develop, share and implement a safeguarding strategy
– Carry out safeguarding adults reviews when someone dies as a result of neglect or abuse and there is a concern that the local authority could have done more to protect them
– Arrange for an independent advocate to represent and support a person who is the subject of a safeguarding enquiry or review

• The Sexual Offenses Act 2003 attempts to make the prosecution of rape easier by clarifying what the term ‘consent’ actually means. The act details that someone consents to a sexual act if, and only if, he or she agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

• The Children Act 1989 manages what local authorities, courts, parents, and other agencies in the UK are doing to ensure that children are safeguarded. This means making sure their well-being, health care, and human rights are all being looked after to a high standard. The act centres on the idea that children are best cared for within their own families; however, it deals with cases when parents and families are not the best option too.

• The Working Together to Safeguard Children act is a guide to inter-agency working in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The guidance is for all organisations and agencies who work with, or carry out work related to, children in the UK. The guidance aims to set the goalposts for inter-agency working and for promoting the welfare of children from all backgrounds, in all settings. The post recent version of this was released in 2018.