What is Contextualised Safeguarding?

In this blog, we will look at what contextualised safeguarding is and how we can use it to support and protect our children and young people.

Our families are just one part of our life, we have work colleagues, neighbours, the community around us as well as our friends. Just like us, children have many parts of their life. They have their family, their friends, their school, their community and their society in general. 

Each of these parts of their life is a potential influence on our children and young people and knowing how they impact our children is important in understanding what could affect them. 

As we know, anyone can be influenced by whoever is around them, especially those who are their caregivers. It can be very difficult to disagree with the ones that we love, it is also very hard to see an objectional view when you are submersed in a single opinion. In certain circumstances, some children aren’t allowed to express any different views from their parents or caregivers, or they could be punished.  

It is very important that you not only understand that their immediate family can influence a child or vulnerable adult but also their friends or peers, their school, their community or even the society that they live in, this is contextualised safeguarding. 

How a child can be influenced outside their immediate family 

Children can be put under enormous pressure to create and maintain friendships with their peers. They can be manipulated and coerced into doing or believing anything they want them to do. Some children may be lacking stability, guidance or even love from their immediate family and are searching for this from another source. This can then be used as a manipulative tool to gain the trust of a child or vulnerable adult and making them believe or behave in a manner that they wouldn’t normally do. 

Here is a summary of the Contextualised Safeguarding Framework as discussed in the CS Briefing.  

There is extensive evidence-based on extra-familial harm and adolescent development that suggests peer relationships, school and community context, both on and offline, as well as familial contexts shape the welfare a safety of children and young people. 

In a review of nine cases of peer-on-peer abuse which affected 145 young people, it was determined that in order to engage with the contextual dynamics identified in these cases, professionals require a policy and practice framework that recognised: 

  1. The differential weight of influence that contexts had in shaping the behaviours of young people, and 
  2. The impact that extra-familial settings could have on the ability of parents and carers to be protective.  

This work formed the basis of the Contextual Safeguarding (CS) framework (Figure 1). The framework comprised four domains.   


Image from Wirral Safeguarding 

Risks associated with contextualised safeguarding 

 Wirral Safeguarding say:  

Contextual Safeguarding is applicable to a wide range of risks which can potentially cause  significant harm to children and young people where the prime cause of harm is outside of the family. This list isn’t exhaustive but includes: 

  • Peer-on-peer and relationship abuse 
  • Criminal/sexual exploitation
  • Online abuse 
  • Missing episodes 
  • Risks associated with gangs 
  • Risks associated with radicalisation 
  • Safeguarding risks in public spaces 
  • Trafficking and modern slavery 
Posted Date

9th June 2022

Vikkey Chaffe
Head of Community Relations

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