Safeguarding and safety
Safeguarding is about much more than just child protection. It involves taking a comprehensive approach which protects young people from any potential source of harm but without smothering their potential and need for challenge and excitement.
What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding legislation and government guidance says that safeguarding means:
- protecting children from abuse or neglect
- preventing impairment of children’s health or development
- ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care, and
- undertaking that role so as to enable those children to have optimum life chances and to enter adulthood successfully.
Why is it so important?
Making sure your youth club has appropriate policies and procedures in place for safeguarding and child protection:
- protects children and young people from harm and abuse
- enables staff and volunteers to know what to do if they are worried
- protects staff and volunteers and ensures they have appropriate training
- shows that your group is responsible and has pride in its work
In England the law states that people who work with children have to keep them safe. This safeguarding legislation is set out in The Children Act (1989) and (2004). It also features in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (to which the UK is a signatory) and sets out the rights of children to be free from abuse. The Government also provides guidance in their document Working Together to Safeguard Children.
What do I need to do and how do I do it?
A variety of resources are available to help you to
- understand the principles and practice of safeguarding,
- put in place appropriate policies and procedures, and
- provide relevant training and induction for staff and volunteers.
A good place to start is the The Safe Network, jointly managed by the NSPCC and Children England, which provides safeguarding information, advice, resources and training specifically tailored to voluntary and community organisations, and smaller organisations in particular. The Safe Network is working towards creating common safeguarding standards for voluntary and community organisations.
As an organisation which works with young people you need to understand the safeguarding regulations introduced in October 2009 and the role of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) in their implementation. For example, if you dismiss a member of staff or a volunteer because they have harmed a child or vulnerable adult, or you would have done so if they had not left, you must tell the ISA. Guidance on the referral (to the ISA) of individuals who pose a threat to children or vulnerable adults, including the referral form, is available on the ISA website. However, registration of employees and volunteers with the vetting and barring scheme, due to have been implemented by the ISA from July 2010, has been put on hold following an announcement by the coalition government of its desire to ‘review the criminal records and vetting and barring regime and scale it back to common sense levels'.
The Criminal Records Bureau continues to vet applications for people who want to work with children, young people and vulnerable adults. CRB checks apply to both paid workers and unpaid volunteers. More information is available on the CRB website. The Safe Network provide more information about safe recruitment practices for organisations working with children and young people, and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development publish a list of pre-employment checks which employers need to consider in this context.
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