How can I help keep children and young people safe?

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We all have a role to play in stopping child sexual abuse, exploitation and grooming.

Whatever your background, where you live or work, whether you have children of your own or not, you can take steps to help keep children and young people safe.

All members of the community can contribute to safeguarding children and young people from abuse. The first step is to notice the children you come across in your life and look for signs that something might not be quite right.

If you know, believe or suspect that a child or young person is suffering, has suffered or is likely to suffer abuse or neglect, you must contact the Strong Families Safe Kids Advice and Referral Line on 1800 000 123.

Make sure you are an adult that children and young people can trust. This means putting the child first, listening to them and believing them – even if you haven’t seen anything that might worry you.

Choose to want to help and share with the child or young person what you are doing to help. Work with the child or young person, don’t just tell them what to do.

To increase your knowledge and skills, visit the Child Wise website for resources and opportunities to register for a variety of safeguarding training courses. Or head to the Think U Know website for information on online child exploitation and pornography. The Bravehearts website also contains some excellent resources, including information sheets in languages other than English.

Be a safe person

Teachers and child care workers often have a unique insight into the lives of children and young people. Sometimes they are the most prominent adult in a child’s life.

As a teacher of child care worker, you will likely see things others don’t so it’s vital you are a safe person in the lives of children and young people.

To be a safe adult, always put the child or young person first, listen to them and believe them – even if you haven’t seen anything that might worry you.

Choose to want to help and share with the child or young person what you are doing to help.

Work with you the child or young person, don’t just tell them what to do.

And seek support from your manager or colleagues where appropriate. Don’t forget to look after yourself.

Look out for your colleagues

If you see any behaviour from your colleagues that worries you or that might be seen as inappropriate, you could consider having an informal conversation about it with the colleague concerned.

Talking about what is appropriate and what is concerning behaviour might be the reminder your colleague needs to continue to be a safe person.

Any behaviour that causes you to have concerns for the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person will need to be reported under your mandatory reporting obligations. More information is available below.

You can visit the Child Safety Service webpage for information and resources about reporting concerns, including your mandatory reporting obligations.
And the Department for Education, Children and Young People has published a guide to appropriate relationships between employees and children and young people to help you.

The Department of Health is committed to the safety and wellbeing, participation, and empowerment of all children and young people who access its services.

The Department of Health has developed resources to help, including a guide on supporting individuals who disclose.

Health workers have an obligation to mandatory report any knowledge, beliefs or suspicions that a child is being harmed or abused.

Visit the Department of Health website to learn more about:
signs of harm and what you should do
how to report safeguarding concerns and
your mandatory reporting obligations.

Mandatory reporting

If you work with children and young people and know, believe or suspect abuse is happening, you must call the Strong Families Safe Kids Advice and Referral Line on 1800 000 123 as soon as possible. This applies whether you are paid or are a volunteer. More information is available on the Strong Families Safe Kids website. You should also ensure police are notified by calling 131 444.

The Office of Safeguarding Children and Young People

For more information about the work of the Office of Safeguarding Children and Young People, visit the Department for Education, Children and Young People website.