This informal CPD article Not All Heroes Wear Capes: Why Everyone Should Understand Safeguarding was provided by Centre of Excellence, a worldwide online training provider.
Unfortunately, we live in a world in which vulnerable adults and children may experience abuse in one or more forms. However, the social structures we have built as a society - agencies, organisations, facilities and workplaces - are also imbued with an intrinsic duty of care. We are also, thankfully, surrounded by caring people who want to help individuals to report, prevent and recover from those experiences.
But to do so safely, it’s important to have an effective framework to make the world that little bit safer for everyone. This is where safeguarding - using appropriate measures to protect someone or something from harm - comes in.
There are six principles of safeguarding:
- Prevention It is better to take action before harm occurs, and this kind of prevention comes through training people to recognise the signs of abuse.
- Protection There must be representation, support and the ability to report abuse available to those in greatest need.
- Empowerment Individuals should be encouraged and supported to make their own decisions and informed consent.
- Proportionality The response to the risk at hand should be the least intrusive possible.
- Accountability There must be transparency and accountability when delivering safeguarding measures.
- Partnership As communities should be involved in reporting abuse and neglect, safeguarding should work closely with them to provide practical, local solutions.
Safeguarding Our Future
Safeguarding isn’t about swooping in and saving the day without thought or consideration. As abuse can be directed at anyone, anywhere, anytime - with each case demonstrating unique circumstances and consequences - these principles help people who safeguard to construct an empathetic and effective approach that places the people who need help first.
Safeguarding is a vast area covering all aspects of life, so we’ll outline the basics for you here to prepare you for further study and demonstrate why safeguarding is an essential skill.
Abuse can happen to absolutely anyone, but the most at risk are generally thought to be children, the elderly, differently-abled adults, victims of crime, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those with protected characteristics, mental health or physical health difficulties, and animals.
It’s worth noting that the terminology, especially surrounding the use of the word ‘vulnerable’, has been acknowledged to be insufficient in designating characteristics of people or animals suffering abuse.
Abuse can occur at home, in the workplace, care facilities, the education system, community centres, prisons, therapy, online and in terror organisations, and ranges from sexual, physical, emotional, financial and discriminatory abuse, as well as neglect.
These are by no means exhaustive lists, but they may help you to identify signs or circumstances of abuse.
Here are some signs someone may be suffering from abuse:
- Lack of sleep
- Changes in behaviour or mood
- Lack of hygiene
- Emotional distress
- Physical markings or injuries
- Anger or unusual aggression
- Confusion or disorientation
- Low self-esteem
- Communication avoidance
- Hair loss
- Deterioration of living standards
- Missing belongings
- Extended or unusual absences
- Social exclusion or alienation
- Extreme forms of expression
There are different legislations, reporting methods and preventative techniques depending on each individual case. It is advisable to look at your local authority’s safeguarding procedures as each has its own protocol. Likewise, organisations should also have documented safeguarding procedures that you can use for reference.
As laid out in the first pillar of safeguarding, we all, as citizens, have a part to play in the welfare of those around us. While we’re not suggesting donning a cape and fighting crime by nightfall as you see in superhero films, if you educate yourself in safeguarding procedures, you could support someone as they work through the most challenging time of their life.
Likewise, it’s important to understand safeguarding for yourself and your own welfare. After all, the best kinds of heroes are those who are healthy enough to help others.
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Centre of Excellence, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.