Safeguarding Children: Everyone’s Responsibility

Safeguarding children and the vulnerable is the responsibility of all adults. Whether your child is attending a club, birthday party, activity camp or summer school, no matter where you are in the world, there are questions that you should be asking yourself before leaving your child in the care of somebody else.

The media are reporting public disclosures on a daily basis. Each case shows us how vulnerable children are. We need to consider what we can learn and more importantly, how can we ensure that they are not a common occurrence in the future.

Where are my children?

Asking questions can help you assess the policies and procedures in place at different establishments. Firstly, ask yourself, where are my children? Are they going to be in an enclosed environment or in a public place with full contact to the outside world? What measures are in place to stop the public from entering the premises? Consider the age and vulnerability of your child. Is this environment appropriate for them?

Who is my child with?

Leaving your child in the care of others can be daunting and challenges your levels of trust. By asking the right questions, you can be reassured that appropriate safeguarding is in place. You have the right to know how the people looking after your children are recruited. Did they attend a face to face interview? Were professional references required? In the UK, the Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) helps employers with safer recruitment, checking candidates against criminal records and barred lists. Any employee in contact with children or the vulnerable must hold a DBS. All providers in the UK should have a Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) in place to appropriately deal with any disclosures.

How can my child safeguard themselves?

We talk to our children about stranger danger, but more can be done to teach them about the boundaries with familiar adults. You can help your own child to safeguard themselves. Ask your child to tell you the appropriate levels of physical contact that their leaders, instructors or teachers should have with them. Educate them. What should they do if they feel uncomfortable in a situation?

What should you look out for?

Lots of the recent stories in the media about cases in the past have demonstrated how clubs have wrongly brushed allegations towards their staff under the carpet. Parents were not aware of obvious signs in the past that their children were being abused. We can learn from this. As a parent, look out for signs. Is there a change in your child’s behaviour? Has your child been reluctant to attend a club? Are there any marks on your child’s body that you have noticed during bath time? Have they mentioned a special privilege with a certain member of staff that prompts you to want to find out more? Trust your instinct, if you think that something is not quite right, speak to a senior member of staff and discuss any of your concerns. It could be nothing, or it could be something.

What questions can I ask providers?

As a perspective customer, ask providers about the measures in place to safeguard your child. What happens if my child has an accident and needs changing? Who helps them get changed for swimming? By asking these questions, you can reassure yourself that your child will be safe. Their staff should be constantly safeguarding themselves to avoid any allegations being made. This includes ensuring they are not alone in a room with a child and comforting a child in an appropriate manner.

Who can I trust?

Leaving your child in the care of somebody else requires trust. Can you trust everyone? Only use reputable providers with policies and procedures in place. These should be publicly available online. Recommendations are, of course, very useful. Which providers have your friends and family used in the past? Were their children happy and safe? Look out for parent testimonials too. But even if someone has recommended always do your own checks and make sure you are happy with the provisions to make your child safe.

All in society need to be more vigilant…

  • Provisions need to continue to assess their policies and procedures, and do all they can to promote safeguarding.
  • Government need to ensure that they are regulating properly and making it as easy as possible for organisations to keep their provisions free from those who wish to harm.
  • Parents need to ask the right questions and make providers earn trust.
  • Everyone (parents, schools and providers) need to spend time educating children about what is right and wrong. And what to do if they are worried, concerned or if they feel under threat.

Together, we can make our young people safer and do more to keep them from harm. We need to learn from the past and let children enjoy their early years in the safest possible environment.

XUK run activity camps and summer schools for children and teens. Safeguarding is our number one priority. Please visit our safeguarding page and policies and procedures.