The word safeguarding means to protect from harm or damage with an appropriate measure. It applies to vulnerable adults and all children. 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 Legislationas amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017. Failure to do so is punishable by Law.
When considering safeguarding it may help to imagine children at the centre of their own lives with all their experiences, activities and actions, protected from harm by all the people and organisations which surround them.
Every Child Matters
In 2003 the then Labour government introduced the Every Child Matters policy. It was launched as a response to the case of eight year old Victoria Climbie. Victoria was tortured and killed by her guardians. The case highlighted a catalogue of errors and failures by statutory services and charities who should have been protecting her. They included the police, social services, the NHS and NSPCC.
The case was so horrifying a public enquiry took place and the organisations and individuals who had come into contact with Victoria were called to give evidence. They included doctors and social workers.
The Every Child Matters policy aimed to ensure this systematic failure to protect a child from abuse never happened again.
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’.
There are many training 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 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.
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.