Safeguarding children policy


For the purposes of this policy the following definitions have been adopted:

3.1. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare and wellbeing of children

  • Protecting children from maltreatment;
  • Preventing the impairment of children’s health or development;
  • Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.
  • Enabling children to have optimum life chances and to enter adulthood.

3.2. Child

  • A child is any person under 18 years of age.

3.3. Child abuse

  • Child abuse is any action by another person, adult or child, that causes significant harm to a child.

Child abuse can be distinguished into four main categories:

  1. Physical abuse – deliberately hurting a child by causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.
  2. Emotional abuse – ongoing emotional maltreatment or emotional neglect of a child that can seriously damage a child’s emotional health and development. This also includes abuse that takes place online (e.g. cyberbullying).
  3. Sexual abuse – forcing or persuading a child to take part in sexual activities. This does not have to be in the form of physical contact and it can happen online in a virtual context.
  4. Neglect – ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs.

3.4. Additional categories of abuse

There are additional areas of concern that could affect children:

  • Child sexual exploitation – a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
  • Honour based abuse – a crime or incident which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community.
  • Female genital mutilation – a range of procedures which involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
  • Forced marriage – a marriage conducted without the valid consent of one or both parties and where duress is a contributing factor.
  • Domestic abuse – any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour or violence. A child may suffer from abuse not only by being physically abused directly, but also seeing or hearing the maltreatment of another such as a parent or sibling.
  • Radicalisation – the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups.
  • Online abuse (cyberbullying) – any type of abuse that happens on the web, whether through social networks, playing online games or using a mobile phone to interact with others.
  • Child trafficking – children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. Children are trafficked for child sexual exploitation, benefit fraud, forced marriage, domestic servitude, such as cooking, cleaning and childcare, forced labour in factories or agriculture, criminal activity such as pick pocketing, begging, transporting drugs, working on cannabis farms, selling pirated DVDs, and bag or shop theft.
  • Grooming – when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation.  Harmful sexual behaviours – using sexually explicit words and phrases, inappropriate touching, using sexual violence or threats, full penetrative sex with other children or adults witnessed by the child.
  • Substance misuse and alcohol abuse – this may apply to the child directly or to other people in the child’s life whose behaviour is impacting upon the child.
  • Ritual abuse and spirit possession - The belief in ’possession’ and ’witchcraft’ is relatively widespread. It is not confined to particular countries, cultures, religions or immigrant communities in this country. The number of identified cases of child abuse, linked to accusations of ’possession’, are small, but the nature of the related child abuse can be particularly disturbing and the children involved can suffer damage to their physical and mental health, capacity to learn, ability to form relationships and self-esteem.1
  • Children with a disability - Disabled children may be especially vulnerable to abuse for a number of reasons. They may be more inclined to be socially isolated, have extra dependency on parents and carers for daily living needs, including intimate personal care, have an impaired capacity to resist/avoid abuse, have limited ability to communicate with others when there is a problem and may not have anyone they trust to disclose their concerns to. Research shows that children with a disability are especially vulnerable to bullying and intimidation. 2