Embed Ethics and Values Into Safeguarding Practice:
Contextual Safeguarding and The Student Voice

COURAGE

“Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.”
Maya Angelou

Are our Communities Safe for Young People?

Courage. Our first value. Introduced last week through our first blog in this series. Consider the historic and documented serious case reviews in all of the major settings that involve young people in our society: schools, universities, the church, social care, sport, hospitals and charities.

Is our community safe for young people? How many instances of abuse could have been avoided if leaders had the courage to stand up and seek the authentic answer to this question, from the young people we are here to safeguard?

To authentically seek the answer from our communities and empower the young people to solicit honest responses requires courage from both our community leaders, to meaningfully ask the question, and for the children to safely respond.

As leaders responsible for the safety of the young people under our care, being courageous has to be a fundamental prerequisite for doing the job.

My NSPCC training taught me to have the courage to:

  • Find out what the young people see as being risks to their safety
  • Accept that my setting, along with everyone other setting, will have safeguarding issues to address
  • Understand that if I am not busy and/or worried and concerned about young people then there is something wrong
  • Own the issues my setting has (only when we have done this can we progress)
  • Make sure that those responsible for making a difference know and understand all risks to safety and are acting on them

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For a young person to disclose any form of risk to their own safety or that of their peers takes immense courage and trust. Research suggests that students may be reluctant to share sensitive safeguarding issues with teachers face to face because their social conditions favour them to stay silent (Carlene Firmin 2017). Current data would seem to support this view:

KNIFE CRIME

  • Knife crime hit a record high in England and Wales before the COVID-19 lockdown came into place – with police reporting46,265 cases for the year to March. The recent report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said this was 51% higher compared to when the data was first collected in 2011 and up 6% from the previous year.
  • Of the estimated 841,000 crimes experienced by 10-15 year olds in the year ending March 2019:
    • 54% were categorised as violent offences.
    • Of these offences, 19% were categorised as wounding, 56% were violence with minor injury and 25% were violence without injury.
    • 27% were theft offences.
    • 15% were criminal damage to personal property.
    • 4% were robbery offences.

COUNTY LINES

HARMFUL SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR

UNIVERSITY SEXUAL ASSAULTS

Empowering the voice of our young people

The Student Voice has developed a contextual safeguarding information sharing tool that seeks to provide a safe platform and environment for community leaders and young people to understand and share concerns and worries. We are seeking to bridge the perceived communication gap by listening to young people and allowing communities to respond to their concerns effectively; with the overall aim being to proactively identify and intercept safeguarding issues, and to ultimately protect our students and provide them with a forum to play their part in this process.

Courage enables leaders to ask the question. Contextual Safeguarding and The Student Voice tool empowers young people to have the courage to share the answers we should all be looking for…….

Written by Jason Tait, Director of Pastoral Care and Designated Safeguarding Lead at TASIS The American School in England and Co-Founder of The Student Voice

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