Hugh Baird College

Contextual Safeguarding

What is it?

“Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships that young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse”.

What does this mean?

As a safeguarding team we take the safety of all students incredibly seriously and aim to protect you in any way we can. At one time, traditional safeguarding focused solely on life inside a student’s home, such as relationships with parents and siblings; or the wider family network.

However ‘contextual safeguarding’ allows us to extend the remit of this traditional way of working to include social settings, peer groups and college. Therefore, we can recognise and respond to the possibility of harm by taking into context the area the young person lives in, the area that their school or college is in and the peer groups they are interacting with. All of this information helps to build a picture of what that young person may be facing daily.

By taking a contextual approach, we recognise that as young people grow, develop and find their identity; they are often influenced by a range of environments outside of the family home. By spending increasing amounts of time outside of home with peers, families may feel like the issues young people face are beyond the control of their parents.

An example of this is within peer groups, during adolescence peer relationships become increasingly influential and important in ways they may not have been at a younger age; this influence may lead to a young person experiencing violence and abuse within a public environment and feel they have nowhere to turn.

Contextual safeguarding covers a wide range of risks where the primary cause of harm is outside of the family home; this includes online abuse, exploitation, radicalisation and trafficking. The issues mentioned may feel far away from your experience of everyday life; however, issues such as gang involvement, county lines, child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation are very much experiences young people in our area are facing.

What do we do in Hugh Baird College to protect you?

Unlike standard safeguarding of a child, taking a contextual approach means we understand that issues facing young people are more than just one individual at risk, it can involve any young person and anybody can be vulnerable to abuse. As it is often highlighted through research that local areas such as parks, shopping centres and bus/train stations are often ‘hot spots’ for abuse taking place; we work closely with external agencies such as social services and the police to ensure that we have a clear picture on any harmful activity in the local area.

It is our duty to disrupt any harmful behaviours that students are facing, therefore, through intelligence (from external agencies or our students) we build support for students through counselling, health and wellbeing and providing learning opportunities to spot the signs of abuse.

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