Safeguarding is the term given to looking after the health, safety and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults. If an employee’s work involves contact with children or vulnerable adults, either occasionally or for long periods of time, they need to have a greater level of awareness.

Children and vulnerable adults may not be able to express their feelings, and the subject of abuse and neglect can be highly emotive. It can be difficult for employees to know how best to respond if they suspect or are informed of potential abuse in their place of work, what they’re required to do by law, and what their organisation expects of them. Safeguarding ensures organisations take a planned approach, to ensure people work together consistently to provide the support that is needed.

Safeguarding is a broader term than child protection, and relates to the positive action that can be taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Safeguarding is defined as:
• protecting children from maltreatment;
• preventing impairment of children’s health or development;
• ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and
• taking action to enable all children to have the best life choices.

Safeguarding doesn’t only relate to children. A vulnerable adult is a person ‘who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness, and who is or may be unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation’. Some especially vulnerable young people are entitled to community care services beyond the age of 18 if they have received support as a child.

Safeguarding is the blanket term given to protecting children and vulnerable adults from physical and emotional abuse, neglect and extremism.