The UK Government definition of Safeguarding children is:
- 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
Any individual under the age of 18 is classed as a child. Until they reach this age all children living in the UK must be ‘safeguarded’.
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.
This protection begins at home and is provided by parents and carers. Children are raised in a variety of settings and by working together and communicating information, carers and statutory services monitor the wellbeing of children from before birth.
Parents and carers are required to attend appointments with healthcare providers who provide vital information and follow policies and procedures to report any concerns. Likewise, parents and carers who are dissatisfied with key services they are receiving for the children can report their concerns which must be acted upon.
As a child develops and grows, they will quickly enter into the wider community where they will access a wider range of services and experiences. Responsibility for safeguarding, therefore, extends beyond the child’s immediate home life and primary care. Any setting which involves provision for children must be carefully considered and adhere to a policy and procedure framework which takes into account issues, which include amongst many others, health and safety, risk and codes of conduct.
The importance 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 life and costly and damaging to an individual, institution, organisation or company. On a larger scale failure to adequately safeguard children can lead to emotional, physical and mental damage which will impact upon their entire life. Failure to safeguard can result in catastrophic outcomes.
It is therefore essential that any organisation or person who comes into contact with children understands child safeguarding fully and that they are kept up to date with changes in legislation and current best practice.
There are many online courses available which explore child safeguarding. As the subject covers so many elements of children and young peoples lives, the issues around this topic are extensive. If you work in an organisation with contact with children and young people there should already be a policy in place which takes into account the broad legislation and provides tailored advice and guidance, unique to the service you provide. If there isn’t, there should be as without this your employer is putting both children and young people and yourself in a vulnerable position.
Safeguarding ensures that all children are protected from harm and neglect. By working together it is possible that all children and young people are protected and given the freedom to develop into healthy adults and reach their full potential. No child should suffer and it is essential that organisations and individuals take this responsibility seriously and put in place robust systems to ensure their protection.