In 2000 an eight-year-old girl called Victoria Climbie was killed by her guardians. As this was happening Victoria came into contact with many individuals and organisations. This included social services, police, NSPCC and the NHS.
A public enquiry took place and the organisations and people who had come into contact with Victoria were called to give evidence. They included doctors and social workers. They all stated deep regrets for the part they played in failing to protect Victoria.
As a response to this the Labour government launched the Every Child Matters 2003 policy. The purpose of the policy was to ensure that child safety was at the heart of all interaction with children.
Changes to the policy
In 2010 the Conservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition moved away from this policy. This Government put the emphasis on health visitors and social workers to carry out health checks at the child’s home. Under the 2010 government the terminology also changed. Anyone now working with children will be familiar with the term, ‘safeguarding’.
Safeguarding children policy
All organisations that work with or come into contact with children must have safeguarding polices and procedures. Current guidance and legislation applies to all children up to the age of 18.
The UK Government states safeguarding children means to:
- protect children from abuse and maltreatment
- prevent harm to children’s health or development
- ensure children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care
- take action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes
Safeguarding extends to all areas of children’s lives from their home life, to school, healthcare, recreational activities, extra-curricular activities and so on. Every aspect of a child’s life is protected by the Children’s Act 2004 Legislation. Failure to do so is punishable by Law.
If we consider again the case of Victoria Climbie, should a similar scenario happen now, each of the professionals who came into contact with her has a legal responsibility to safeguard her. Greater care, consideration and communication would need to take place. If professionals fail to do this they are now committing a crime.
The importance of working together to safeguard children and young people is paramount. On a small scale failure to do so can result in incidents and accidents that are detrimental to the children’s lives and costly and damaging to an individual, institution, organisation or company. On a greater scale failure to adequately safeguard children can lead to emotional, physical and mental damage to a child which will impact upon their entire life. Failure to safeguard can result in catastrophic outcomes.
Engage in Learning provide eLearning solutions to help your organisation. Their interactive Safeguarding Children training course will help you to reduce organisational risk and make a positive difference to lives. Child protection courses form an integral role in the compliance strategy for anyone working with children or in an environment where children are present.