Safeguarding in Schools: What is Safeguarding?

In Part 1 of the Safeguarding in Schools series, we covered the history of Safeguarding. In this post, we provide a definition and best practices for K-12 education leaders. This blog is the second part of a 4-part series that will examine strategic safeguarding in schools.

What is Safeguarding?

Schools have a fundamental responsibility to protect students from harm, and educators are professionally (and legally) obligated to report instances of abuse. Safeguarding broadens the scope to cover a wide range of students’ non-academic needs.

Today’s educators are faced with addressing a wide range of concerns, including:

  • Mental and physical health concerns, including those related to the pandemic, depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, peer-on-peer abuse, self-harm, and suicide ideation
  • Online issues, like cyber-bullying, pornography, online safety, radicalization, doxing, criminal exploitation, social media, and challenges with online learning
  • Persecution, bigotry, racism, sexism, ableism, and other “-isms”
  • Economic and home challenges whether it be hunger, insecurity, lack of
    technological infrastructure at home, immigration, mobility, criminal exploitation, or parental abuse and family mental health issues
  • School safety ranging from active-shooter situations to fighting, violence, weapons on campus, political stress, environmental catastrophes such as forest fires and flooding, and local public health concerns
  • Growing awareness of child sexual issues including exploitation, grooming, sexting, trafficking, homophobia, and pressure from peers


Safeguarding best practices for K-12 leaders

Effective Safeguarding practice works as a comprehensive, integrated system. Based on sound principles, Safeguarding puts the focus on the needs of the individual student, not a collection of independent activities in separate silos.

Schools that practice Safeguarding holistically consider everything that could be going on in a child’s universe—not as individual behaviors.


Effective Safeguarding practice requires:

A Strategic Mindset

Though every district has a school improvement plan, very few have a similar plan in place for student safety and wellbeing.

Professional Curiosity

Those investigating student concerns must keep an open-mind, taking care to not make any pre-conceived conclusions unsupported by data.

Statutory Awareness

Maintain an understanding of state regulations, like those related to data privacy and fiduciary responsibilities.

Delegation and Collaboration

Safeguarding as a practice is not done in isolation—it requires trust and a willingness to communicate.


Those reporting and addressing students’ concerns must have courage when working with students and parents.

Data Proficiency

To successfully deliver student supports, staff must have a good grasp on how to access needed data—like those available in MyConcern, or a student information system (SIS).

Privacy and Confidentiality

Because non-academic challenges are usually personal in nature, students’ privacy must always be maintained.


Strategically address students’ social, emotional, physical and mental health needs

Successful implementation of Safeguarding begins with identifying the concerns students are currently facing, while simultaneously implementing a strategy for mitigating their impact on the student’s learning.

To achieve this with efficiency, the Safeguarding Company focuses on four principles of harm reduction:

  1. Understanding the full context of students’ needs and identifying risks.
  2. Taking action to prevent and reduce harm.
  3. Helping students develop the skills and resilience to avoid, resist and recover from challenges and trauma.
  4. Engaging with parents, staff, community agencies and the community to reduce the risk of student concerns.


Related Resource:

[Webinar Recap] 4 steps to address students’ social-emotional, physical and mental health needs. The pandemic widened existing gaps in educational equity—vulnerable students have been among the hardest hit. Adopting a culture of Safeguarding can aid schools in navigating non-academic barriers students face in their learning, and supporting their unique and personal needs.

In our next post, learn how to support (and streamline) Safeguarding with MyConcern

Posted Date

25th January 2022

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