What does safeguarding mean?

Safeguarding refers to the process of protecting children (and adults) to provide safe and effective care. This includes all procedures designed to prevent harm to a child.

What is child protection?

Child Protection is part of a process to protect children and young people, who are identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This includes the child protection procedures which detail how to respond to concerns about a child.

What is abuse?

Child abuse is any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm. 

For definitions of abuse and the signs of possible abuse, visit our Child abuse in a sports setting guidance or, see our FAQs.

Safeguarding requirements for an organisation

Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2023) states that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Working Together outlines the duties of all organisations that work with children.

The Safeguarding Standards are based on these duties. And while the Working Together guidance is only specific to England, the principles are reflected by guidance and standards in all the UK nations.

What is contextual safeguarding?

Traditionally, safeguarding has focused on the young people’s home, school and sports club to keep them safe. These areas are really important. However, they’re not where young people spend all their time.

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

  • 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 they find this a safe and supportive place to spend time

We've developed an animation to look at the difference between child protection and safeguarding and explore contextual safeguarding more closely to understand how we can ensure young people are kept safer. 

When thinking about contextual safeguarding in sport and physical activity context, the first thing to do is to talk to children and young people and find out where they like to hang out.

  • What are the benefits and risks of this space? Discuss these with young people.
  • What does your organisation already offer in these spaces?
  • How can this be expanded, where relevant, and made safer?

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