Developing contextual responses to the abuse and exploitation of young people

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What is Contextual Safeguarding?

Last updated: 27 Jul 2020

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. Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and young people’s experiences of extra-familial abuse can undermine parent-child relationships.

Therefore, children’s social care practitioners, child protection systems and wider safeguarding partnerships need to engage with individuals and sectors who do have influence over/within extra-familial contexts, and recognise that assessment of, and intervention with, these spaces are a critical part of safeguarding practices. Contextual Safeguarding, therefore, expands the objectives of child protection systems in recognition that young people are vulnerable to abuse beyond their front doors.


The following briefing provides an overview of contextual safeguarding from theory to practice.

Contextual Safeguarding: A 2020 update on the operational, strategic and conceptual framework

Contextual Safeguarding: A 2020 update on the operational, strategic and conceptual framework

This briefing provides an overview of the design and use of the Contextual Safeguarding Framework from 2017 until 2020, and updates the first overview briefing published in 2017.

What is Contextual Safeguarding?

This short video provides an overview of contextual safeguarding and what it means in practice for different social contexts.

The Principles of Contextual Safeguarding

This short video provides a brief introduction to the principles of Contextual Safeguarding. 

Social theory and Contextual Safeguarding

This video provides an accessible overview of Pierre Bourdieu's social theory which underpins Contextual Safeguarding. 

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