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What is contextual safeguarding? Information and resources from the Contextual Safeguarding Network

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'Contextual safeguarding' is an approach to safeguarding that responds to young people's experiences of harm outside of the home, for example, with peers, in schools and in neighbourhoods.

The child protection system, therefore, needs to engage with individuals and sectors who do have influence over/within extra-familial contexts, and it needs to recognise that assessment of, and intervention with, these spaces are a critical part of safeguarding practices. Contextual safeguarding expands the objectives of child protection systems with recognition that young people are vulnerable to abuse in a range of social contexts.

Contextual safeguarding has been developed at the University of Bedfordshire over the past six years to inform policy and practice approaches to safeguarding. Contextual safeguarding provides a framework to advance child protection and safeguarding responses to a range of extra-familial risks that compromise the safety and welfare of young people. This briefing for practitioners provides an overview of the operational, strategic and conceptual framework of contextual safeguarding. It collates and summarises learning from multiple publications on the subject of contextual safeguarding with particular reference to the following:

  1. International evidence on why context is important to adolescents' welfare
  2. Contextual safeguarding framework with specific reference to how contexts relate to each other and inform young people's behaviours
  3. Contextual safeguarding system and the role of contextual interventions
  4. Implications of contextual safeguarding for child protection systems and practices.

There is work underway to build a hub of resources to support schools with the implementation of contextual safeguarding, which NAHT will be supporting. To date, the University of Bedfordshire has worked with schools to carry out research and consider what contextual safeguarding means to them. See what's already on offer for schools

To find out more about contextual safeguarding, visit the University of Bedfordshire's Contextual Safeguarding Network's website.

First published 20 June 2018