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What is child safeguarding?

Everyone has the responsibility to help protect children from abuse, exploitation and neglect.

Child safeguarding is the responsibility of organisations to ensure they do no harm to children. This means doing all they can to prevent exploitation and abuse, and if abuse occurs, to respond appropriately. Read more about what your organisation needs to do to keep children safe.

Recognise the risks

The first step is to understand where your organisation comes into contact with children and what risks this may pose. This could be face-to-face or online contact with a child. Listening to children and caregivers about safeguarding risks is an essential part of the process.

Close the gaps

Child abuse in organisations can be prevented, but abusers can and will exploit any gaps in an organisation’s child safeguarding framework. All gaps need to be closed with robust safeguarding measures that create safer organisations. This means: developing a child safeguarding policy and a code of conduct that sets out acceptable and unacceptable conduct around children.

It means implementing safer recruitment processes to keep out abusers, training staff on how to prevent abuse and their obligation to report concerns. As well as developing a network of Focal Points to champion child safeguarding and establishing rigorous monitoring and accountability systems.

However, even with the most robust child safeguarding measures, abuse may still take place from within your organisation. At that point, it is how your organisation responds that is crucial for the child and for the organisation. Every organisation needs to have safe systems for reporting and responding to abuse and protecting the rights and dignity of victims and survivors.

Put children first

All actions on child safeguarding should be taken in the best interests of the child or children, which are paramount. This means ensuring you communicate with children about your safeguarding policy, so they understand what they should expect from staff. It also means consulting with children and families about child safeguarding measures, so they are accessible and appropriate. And it means establishing child-friendly reporting and response systems to protect abused children from the risk of further harm such as re-traumatisation, stigma or re-victimisation.

Leaders should develop a culture of safeguarding and put the rights and safety of children at the heart of the organisation’s mission. Staff should be appointed and evaluated based on their values and commitment to safeguarding children, and bullying and discrimination should be robustly addressed, so everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

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