Contextual safeguarding is about keeping children and young people safe – physically, emotionally and mentally – from significant dangers they may experience beyond their families. Some extra-familial relationships can be potentially harmful, such as those formed at school, in local neighbourhoods and online. Contextual safeguarding, therefore, aims to protect children as much as possible by working together with relevant people and organisations in the local community. Working as a team with others in your community, including parents, community groups, teachers and local residents, provides the best opportunity to keep young people safe. This collaborative approach to safeguarding also ensures that effective action can be taken quickly when an area of risk is identified.
At the heart of contextual safeguarding is an understanding that as young people grow, they are affected by many different people and environments outside their home environment, some of which can be potentially harmful. These situations can present risks, which contextual safeguarding aims to better understand in order to address potential dangers and keep young people safe. Experiences that young people have with other people outside their home or online can affect their behaviour in other areas of their lives and their mental health. It is vital that we understand these risks in order to best protect young people.
Child protection services already work to protect young people from violence or abuse experienced in their home, but these structures are yet to cover harmful situations experienced outside the home environment, such as in peer group settings, public spaces or online. Contextual safeguarding assesses and responds to risks to children's safety that are presented outside their home. In our deeply interconnected, modern world where many children have access to the Internet, contextual safeguarding is an ever more important consideration when working to keep young people safe.
At WEPA, to ensure parents are fully aware and connected to the contextual safeguarding in our local community, we hand out safeguarding half-termly newsletters to all parents and we hold half-termly parents information sessions to give updates on local concerns.