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“Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to safeguarding children and young people which responds to their experiences of harm outside the home.”
“Contextual Safeguarding has been developed by Carlene Firmin at the University of Bedfordshire over the past six years to inform policy and practice approaches to safeguarding adolescents. Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships that young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse. Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and young people’s experiences of extra-familial abuse can undermine parent-child relationships.”
“As well as threats to the welfare of children from within their families, children may be vulnerable to abuse or exploitation from outside their families. These extra-familial threats might arise at school and other educational establishments, from within peer groups, or more widely from within the wider community and/or online.
These threats can take a variety of different forms and children can be vulnerable to multiple threats, including: exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups such as county lines; trafficking, online abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation. Extremist groups make use of the internet to radicalise and recruit and to promote extremist materials. Any potential harmful effects to individuals identified as vulnerable to extremist ideologies or being drawn into terrorism should also be considered.
Assessments of children in such cases should consider whether wider environmental factors are present in a child’s life and are a threat to their safety and/or welfare. Children who may be alleged perpetrators should also be assessed to understand the impact of contextual issues on their safety and welfare. Interventions should focus on addressing these wider environmental factors, which are likely to be a threat to the safety and welfare of a number of different children who may or may not be known to local authority children’s social care.
Assessments of children in such cases should consider the individual needs and vulnerabilities of each child. They should look at the parental capacity to support the child, including helping the parents and carers to understand any risks and support them to keep children safe and assess potential risk to child.”
Working Together to Safeguard Children
“To align with a Contextual Safeguarding framework, local systems need to:
a) Target extra-familial contexts and relationships in which harm occurs: alongside direct work with children and families, contexts which pose a risk to them are identified, referred, assessed and intervened with in accordance with a plan.
b) Reduce extra-familial harm through a child protection lens: contextual risk is addressed through plans/interventions where the primary goal is to safeguard children (rather than crime reduction). Such plans are overseen by social work which may feature, but are broader than, policing or community safety disruption
c) Demonstrate active partnerships with agencies who have reach into extrafamilial settings: this includes partnerships between children’s social care and sports/leisure, parks and recreation, licensing, private businesses, schools, youth clubs and young people/parents themselves
d) Measure success by a reduction in contextual risk: the impact of interventions or success outcomes are not solely measured in relation to individual behaviour change in young people (for example a reduction in truancy). Any individual measures are reported in context, and the area can also identify safety in groups and locations.”
Contextual Safeguarding: A Briefing for ADCS, 2019
This conference focuses on Contextual Safeguarding – implementing the approach in practice and ensuring there is support at an operational, strategic and governance level. Through national updates and practical case studies this conference will highlight how using this approach can safeguard children and develop appropriate responses to extra-familial harm.
This conference will enable you to:
• Network with colleagues who are working to implement a Contextual Safeguarding approach
• Learn from outstanding practice in safeguarding children and young people
• Reflect on national developments and learning from test sites
• Developing a Contextual Safeguarding action plan
• Develop your skills in developing effective responses to extra-familial harm
• Understand how you can improve partnership working with communities
• Train and educate frontline staff in the concept of Contextual Safeguarding
• Identify key strategies for measuring reduction in contextual risk
• Learn from case studies in contextual safeguarding in youth violence, gangs and county lines activity and in the NHS
• Understand principles and GDPR compliance in information sharing within child safeguarding
• Ensure you are up to date with the latest case study developments
• Self assess and reflect on your own practice
• Gain cpd accreditation points contributing to professional development and revalidation evidence
100% of delegates at our previous conference on this subject would recommend it to colleagues