Contextual Safeguarding

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.  The team at the University of Bedfordshire have been developing the approach over the past six years to help inform policy and practice when safeguarding adolescents.

During this year 1,170 practitioners from all local authority areas in England signed up to the network, to share a range of examples of how they are identifying and responding to environments where young people have encountered harm.

Intervention examples have included:

  • Schools where young people have experienced sexual harassment, including peer-on-peer abuse policies
  • Building relationships with trading standards and town centre managers to increase staff awareness and increase youth work presence in places at high-risk times of day
  • Applications to influence the future design and use of alleyways, stairwells and other public spaces
  • Engagement with gardeners and park wardens in park spaces where young people have encountered violence
  • Participation activities with young people in library settings

This level of engagement represents a cultural shift and change in narrative in how practitioners are thinking about risk, child protection and safeguarding with some local authority areas working towards embedding contextual safeguarding into all of their services.

Throughout this project, the profile and impact of the contextual safeguarding approach continues to grow and develop.  Nationally – Contextual Safeguarding has been integrated into Working Together and has also been embedded into national policy for Safeguarding Children in Schools and the Ofsted framework.

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