Developing contextual responses to the abuse and exploitation of young people


What is Contextual Safeguarding?

Last updated: 23 Mar 2020

Contextual Safeguarding has been developed by Carlene Firmin at the University of Bedfordshire over the past six years to inform policy and practice approaches to safeguarding adolescents. 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 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 in a range of social contexts.

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

Contextual Safeguarding: An overview of the operational, strategic and conceptual framework

Contextual Safeguarding: An overview of the operational, strategic and conceptual framework

This briefing for practitioners provides an overview of the operational, strategic and conceptual framework of Contextual Safeguarding.

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. 

What does Contextual Safeguarding mean to me?

In this video Danielle Fritz (International Centre) reflects on what contextual safeguarding means to practitioners. 

Network resources

Interested in hearing more about Contextual Safeguarding? Join the Network for free here. If you want to know about how we put Contextual Safeguarding into practice why not have a look at some of our resources:

The HSB assessment tool provides practitioners with a revised framework for harmful sexual behaviour MAP or strategy meetings.

This new tool supports schools to self-assess their response to harmful sexual behaviour. The toolkit includes a traffic-light table, self assessment scorecard and five webinars on how to carry out the assessment.

The Contextual Safeguarding Audit Toolkit supports practitioners to audit partnership responses to peer-on-peer abuse.

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