Contextual safeguarding

What is contextual safeguarding?

Traditionally, safeguarding has focused on young people’s home, school, and sports club to keep them safe. However, young people spend their time in other environments and with other peer groups or individuals where they may encounter risks.

Contextual safeguarding starts by finding out where young people spend their time and then works to make these places safer. For example:

  • providing information to shop owners about what to do if they have concerns about children
  • displaying information in local shopping centres about who to contact if they have concerns
  • engaging with young people in their local hang out areas to ensure that young people find this a safe and supportive place to spend time

Why is contextual safeguarding important?

Contextual safeguarding highlights the possible risks of the environments and individuals that young people encounter. Understanding these risks helps to better protect children and young people in their chosen environments.

We've developed this animation to look at the difference between child protection and safeguarding and explore contextual safeguarding more closely to understand how we can make sure children and young people can be kept safer.

Where are your young participants spending their time?

Having conversations with young people can help to build an open inclusive culture, where they feel listened to and valued. Finding out about where your young participants spend their time outside of your club or activity, could help you to protect them from potential risks.

These conversations could also provide an opportunity to talk to young people in more detail any these risks and dangers. You could also engage with other local organisations to address any identified risks, for example local health facilities, police community officers, etc.

Conversation talking points

These conversation starters can help you to get started:

  • what are the benefits of this space or environment?
  • what are the risks of this space or environment?
  • what does your organisation already offer in these spaces?
  • how can this be expanded, where relevant, and made safer?

If these conversations raise any concerns or worries, you should act as soon as possible. We developed guidance on how to deal with a concern and responding to and reporting concerns.

Further information

Information about contextual safeguarding