Ways Child Abuse Can Be Prevented & Safeguarded From

Children need to be loved, natured, and supported to be able to grow healthily and reach their full potential. No child deserves to be harmed and it important to consider ways in which child abuse can be prevented. Whether you are a parent or an adult who is part of a child’s life, this guide aims to help you understand the different ways in which can help protect children from abuse.

Which children are more vulnerable to abuse?

There are several factors which may make some children more vulnerable to abuse;

  • Children who are very young
  • Children with disabilities or health problems
  • Those who have already been abused or are being abused
  • Single parent families or young parents with very little support from extended families
  • Mental health issues
  • Drugs and alcohol misuse
  • Community and environmental factors
  • Poverty
  • Social isolation
  • Other violent relationships within the home

The factors are not exhaustive, child abuse can affect children from all backgrounds.  

How can child abuse be prevented?

Child abuse can be prevented when we begin to understand the factors which contribute to making a child more vulnerable to abuse. The following is a list of ways to prevent child abuse;

  • Promote family & child well being
  • Support systems to help at-risk families
  • Education and Abuse Awareness
  • Safeguard systems in social services and schools regularly reviewed and upheld
  • Normalisation and encouragement to report abusers.
  • Online awareness & Protection
  • Promotion of rights & equality
  • Removal of stigma around survivors/victims
  • Support from current & evolving laws

We will now discuss each of these ways of prevention in more detail;

1. Promote family & child well-being

Understanding and experiencing healthy relationships is key in promoting the well-being of your family and child. Start by examining your own behaviour and checking whether this fits in with what you are trying to promote. Nurture your family and through your actions show that you are able to settle conflicts without resorting to profanity or violence. Spend time with one another and do things that you enjoy. Praise children for their achievements and make sure you let them know you love them even when they don’t do so well. Encourage respect for each other, this includes allowing personal space and time away to deal with emotions. Creating an environment which deters abuse will help children understand healthy and respectful relationships enabling them to identify ones that are not.

2. Support systems to help at-risk families

It is important to provide families with a good support system in accordance to their needs. Depending on how the risk is identified, resources for support should be accessible helping families to manage and overcome difficulties and challenges. For example a referral made to social services about a family experiencing domestic violence, social services will need to access the needs of the family and put strategies in place to keep everyone safe. Details of organisations which support families should be made available in child settings such as nurseries, schools, GP surgery etc.  Good support systems which address a family or child’s needs early can help protect a child.

3. Education and Abuse Awareness

One of the most beneficial ways of preventing child abuse is to learn about it. Education and abuse awareness helps you and the child to identify the different forms of abuse and to able to recognise it when it happens. By empowering children, parents, teachers and the wider community with awareness of child abuse, they are armed with the tools and knowledge to better protect children. Schools teach children about healthy relationships and abuse awareness as part of the curriculum, however they may wish to engage parents and adults. By working together to heighten the awareness, everyone involved will be better equipped to know how to protect children from harmful situations.

4. Safeguard systems in social services and schools regularly reviewed and upheld

Social services and schools are under a duty to have a child protection policy in place, normally this will include safeguarding. Safeguarding is used to describe the measures put into place to ensure the protection of children, this will include clear procedures to follow if staff are concerned for a child, carrying out checks on staff before they work with children, training staff to identify signs of abuse and teaching children how to protect themselves. Effective safeguarding is vital and plays a significant role in child safety, for this reason it is essential to ensure the policies are reviewed regularly and staff are updated with any changes and know what is expected of them. 

5. Normalisation and encouragement to report abusers.

Encouraging people to report abuse is important, children need to be reminded that no one has the right to abuse them. Parents and adults with young people in their care need to talk to children about different ways of reporting ensuring their safety. The child needs to know as difficult as it may be, they will need to build the courage to speak to someone. If they feel anxious about approaching family members, tell children about other people who can help. By encouraging children to report the abuse, the more likely they are to reach out for help.

6. Online awareness & Protection

Parents and adults with children in their care should ask children to speak to someone about anything they come across on the internet which makes them feel uncomfortable.  As part of the curriculum children are taught about online safety, however it is still better to remind children about the importance of protecting their identity and the dangers of communicating with strangers. By heightening online awareness, children are better informed on how to protect themselves and can identify potential risks.

7. Promotion of rights & equality

Children need to be taught about their rights of being equal to any other human being. It is important that they know that whilst they may rely on adults for nurturing and guidance, they are both equal in human rights and deserve to be treat with the same dignity and respect. This is key to helping children to recognise that they are a subject of their own right and deserve to be treat as equals. These rights can be promoted at home, schools and the local community, empowering children with the confidence to develop to their full potential and keep safe from harm. 

8. Removal of stigma around survivors/victims

Victims of abuse should not have to deal with the trauma on their own, they should be encouraged to come forward and talk about their experience. However most victims are too frightened or ashamed to come forward because of the negatives attitudes and misunderstanding associated with abuse. Parent, schools and the local community need to work together to end the stigma of victims of abuse by learning about the repercussions victims have to deal with when they are unable to talk to someone. Some victims develop dangerous coping mechanisms and live with a range of issues including mental health problems. Victims should be able to talk about their experience and get the help they need.

9. Support from current & evolving laws

The following is a list of key legislation supporting child protection;

  • The Children Act 1989 (as amended)
  • The Children and Social Work Act 2017
  • Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018
  • The Education Act 2002
  • The United Nations convention on the Rights of the Child 1992
  • The Equality Act 2010
  • The Children and Families Act 2014
  • The Human Rights Act 1998

These laws are essential for the protection of children, minimising the risk of abuse and exploitation. Policies and procedures should be reviewed on a regular basis promoting compliance with the relevant legislation.

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help is not easy. However by educating yourself and keeping a close eye on children in your care, you may prevent them from being harmed. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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