What is Contextual Safeguarding?
Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to children’s experiences of significant harm beyond their family and home.
This approach recognises the different relationships children have in their schools, peer groups, online and in their community. Parents and carers may have little influence over these contexts and children’s exposure to extra-familial abuse can impact negatively a parent-child relationship.
It is important that professionals understand the risks to children through exploitation and wider extra-familial harm within their local communities. Across North Yorkshire, professionals come together under our MACE and Contextual Safeguarding Arrangements to share information about children at risk of exploitation, as well as potential perpetrators and locations that could pose a risk to children and young people. Within these monthly meetings that take place across the 7 district areas of North Yorkshire, professionals formulate multi-agency actions plans to identify, detect and disrupt the risks to children and young people in the community. For more information about our MACE and Contextual Safeguarding Level 2 meetings, please visit https://www.safeguardingchildren.co.uk/professionals/procedures-practice-guidance-and-one-minute-guides/multi-agency-child-exploitation-mace-and-contextual-safeguarding-level-2/.
The below clip from the Contextual Safeguarding Network explains the approach in more detail:
Why is this approach important?
When it comes to Child Exploitation more often the risk is posed outside of the family home. Contextual Safeguarding enhances traditional child protection systems to recognise children are vulnerable to extra-familial abuse. Taking into account a child’s neighbourhood, school, peer groups, online space as well as home ensures when assessing the risk of child exploitation, it is more accurate and holistic of how a child experiences risk in order to provide appropriate intervention by recognising these spaces.
Dr Carlene Firmin, Principal Research Fellow at The Contextual Safeguarding Network explains the need to understand the risk public and online spaces can pose risk to children within child protection systems:
How does Contextual Safeguarding work?
The principals of Contextual Safeguarding are outlined in the animated clip below:
How is Contextual Safeguarding being applied in North Yorkshire?
Dr Carlene Firmin provided a Contextual Safeguarding Keynote at North Yorkshire Children & Families Service Day in February 2020. The Keynote was record and the slides of Carlene’s presentation are available to download within the resource section at the foot of this page:
Where to go for further information and support?
The Contextual Safeguarding Network carry out research, offer practice development and strategic engagement across the UK. They have a whole host of policy and practice resources created through the work they develop. Visit the Contextual Safeguarding Network here.
NYSCP has produced a podcast series on Engaging with Children and Families affected by Child Exploitation.
Each episode we sit down with a frontline professional in North Yorkshire to discuss the challenges and approaches they use to support children and families affected by child exploitation.