Safeguarding, as a term, became part of the common vernacular back in 2003, as part of the Every Child Matters green paper.
Every Child Matters was a response to the tragic death of Victoria Climbié, who died after police and social services failed to intervene despite having twelve clear opportunities to help.
Safeguarding measures have continued to be formalised and revisited in a range of initiatives such as The Care Act 2014, so it's important to acknowledge that safeguarding affects us all.
Safeguarding extends beyond those who work in education and with young people. Safeguarding is a community responsibility that aims to protect each and every one of us.
In this article, we're going to explore why safeguarding is such an important concept in our society. We'll explore the six principles that drive safeguarding initiatives while examining the role and responsibilities that we all bear.
What are the 6 principles of safeguarding?
One of the principal pillars of safeguarding legislation is the attempt to ensure that each person who works with vulnerable adults or children has been background checked.
The DBS check plays an essential role in the safeguarding process, ensuring that all staff and volunteers are safe to work in the environment they are there to protect.
But safeguarding goes beyond the DBS check and identifies a range of other protections.
Working Together to Safeguard Children
The Working Together to Safeguard Children (2013) guidance document underpinned the six principles of safeguarding; defining how we recognise and protect against abuse and neglect.
The six principles are:
Everyone is supported and encouraged to make independent decisions, including informed consent. Often defined as "I'm asked what I want as a result of the safeguarding process, and this has a direct impact on what happens to me."
The principle of taking action before any harm occurs. Often defined as "I am given simple and clear information regarding the definition of abuse. I can identify the signs and know what to do if I need to seek help."
Recognition that any action initiated as a result of safeguarding procedures is appropriate to the risk presented (and will not aggravate a situation). Often defined as “I feel secure that the professionals representing me will focus solely on my interests and will get involved when necessary and as much as is necessary.”
Ensuring that support and representation are available for those with the greatest need. Often defined as "I receive support and help that enables me to report neglect and abuse. I am supported to participate in the safeguarding process to the extent to which I require and want."
Community is at the heart of safeguarding procedures and services that offer local solutions. Communities have a role in preventing, identifying, and reporting abuse and neglect. Often defined as "I feel confident that professionals supporting me will work together and alongside me to achieve the best result for me."
Recognition that there should be a clear, auditable path of transparency and accountability at all levels of safeguarding. Often defined as "I understand and recognise the role of all of the people involved in my life. And so do they."
Your Roles and Responsibilities in Safeguarding Individuals
Safeguarding is everybody's responsibility - not just those employed to take care of children and vulnerable adults.
Safeguarding protects each individual's right (whether a child or an adult) to live in safety; free from neglect and abuse.
It's a community responsibility as much as an organisational doctrine.
Each business or organisational sector may interpret their responsibility differently. Nonetheless, the six fundamental principles lay the foundations of safeguarding implementations.
Why Is Safeguarding Important In Schools?
People often confuse “child protection” and “safeguarding”, but each phrase has a distinct meaning.
Safeguarding applies to all children, while "child protection" is a process defining what should be done for children at risk of significant harm.
Safeguarding for schools is clearly defined in the government paper, Keeping Children Safe in Education, while Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 lays out the requirements for schools, nurseries, early years providers and those working in the Further Education sectors.
Yes, it may feel a little rigid and regulated, but the essence is simple:
Safeguarding in schools protects all children from maltreatment; promoting a child's physical and mental health and development.
Children should be nurtured in safe and productive environments, and schools should take action to enable all children to have the best outcomes from their education and home life.
Schools play a crucial role in protecting children and young people from abuse.
The Care Act 2014 aimed to create safe environments for pupils through robust safeguarding procedures:
- All adults working in the school (including volunteers) won't pose a risk to pupils. Background checking through the DBS system helps to identify and negate risk.
- All staff are trained and know how they should respond to potential concerns, whether in school or at home.
- All staff have current training and recognition of safeguarding policy and practice
- Children and young people are informed and understand how to stay safe (including safety online)
- Schools should nurture and maintain an environment where pupils feel confident that their safeguarding concerns are going to be taken seriously.
Why Is Safeguarding Important In Healthcare?
NHS England works in partnership with local and community services to ensure the promotion of wellbeing for everyone in the community.
The NHS definition of safeguarding extends to adults as well as children and aims to protect everyone from harm; supporting the basic human right to live safely and free from neglect or abuse.
The Care Act 2014 states that each Local Authority should:
- Act upon any suspicion of abuse or neglect.
- Ascertain whether action should be taken to tackle the source of suspected neglect or abuse.
- If appropriate, arrange for an independent advocate to support or represent any adult who may be the subject of an enquiry.
- Cooperate with relevant service partners to help protect adults at risk of neglect or abuse.
Safeguarding in healthcare is essential because it aims to prevent harm to the entire population; helping reduce the risks of abuse and neglect.
Why is Safeguarding important in sport?
As an extension of the healthcare definition of the term, anyone involved in sporting activities should have a safe space in which to participate and be active - extending the notion that safeguarding relates to our health and well-being needs.
Everyone involved in sporting activities (volunteers, participants, spectators, or even elite athletes) should be in an environment where they never worry about harassment or abuse.
The Clubmark accreditation is available for sports organisations who have proven their safeguarding credentials in addition to a range of other standards that help participants and parents of participants make informed decisions about how a club is run and the relative safety of their facilities.
Clubmark is regulated by Sports England and helps to ensure that participating sports clubs have met high-quality safeguarding and community standards.
Safeguarding measures in sporting facilities help every person feel safe in an environment that might promote their well-being.
Why Is Safeguarding important in nurseries?
As with all education and care settings, nurseries offer formative, developmental support to young children, making it vitally important that nurseries are safe and healthy environments.
In practice, safeguarding policies in nurseries should cover recruitment, health, mental health, protection from abuse, and safety.
Recruitment is the clearest example of safeguarding in nursery environments. Rigorous checks (via DBS services) are the primary component, seeking to ensure that all employees and volunteers are deemed suitable to work with children.
Health refers to the support of a wholesome diet, as well as ensuring that medication and vaccination needs are met.
Mental health is a key concern in the development of children. Preventions should be in place against bullying, ensuring that a child’s time in the nursery is a happy one.
Protection from abuse is often considered the most critical element of safeguarding measures, helping to protect children from adults and other children who could cause harm.
Safety measures help prevent injury within the nursery environment.
Most of this, of course, you might consider simple common sense.
And, of course, you're right.
But that common sense comes has a sociological foundation.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Need
Essentially, safeguarding supports the motivational theory of self-actualisation as defined by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need.
Maslow recognised that achievement of one's full potential (self-actualisation) is possible only if a person's psychological and basic needs are first met.
A person's basic needs are physiological - the essentials required for the body to function: food, water, warmth, and rest.
Safety and security are also considered basic needs, without which a person's psychological or self-fulfilment needs can't be met or realised.
Psychological needs involve belonging and relationships, as well as the necessity for self-esteem.
Without meeting a person's basic AND psychological needs, full potential is impossible (according to the hierarchy).
Safeguarding is merely an extension of Maslow's theory and is in place throughout British society in an attempt to ensure that every individual might meet their full potential.
This is what makes safeguarding such an important concept - we're not just supporting and protecting the young and the vulnerable. Safeguarding refers to every single person, regardless of their social make-up.
A safeguarded society is one that aims to make every community fairer and safer; helping each of us achieve our full potential.