‘The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking’ launched the Contextual Safeguarding Network in September 2016. The Contextual Safeguarding Network brings together practitioners across the United Kingdom to share and generate knowledge on contextual approaches to safeguarding young people from violence and abuse. The network promotes theory-informed practice and seeks to develop practice-informed research co-created with academics and practitioners. We seek to accelerate the learning from, piloting of, contextual approaches to safeguarding by disseminating research findings and running in-person and online trainings and events. Members are encouraged to submit ideas for trainings or materials so that Research Team can respond to the identified needs of practitioners.
The network builds upon the learning from the MsUnderstood Partnership (MSU). Since 2013 MSU has supported the development of local responses to peer-on-peer abuse. Through this work, MSU identified two main challenges to safeguarding young people from violence and abuse:
– Child protection procedures do not adequately intervene to address risks faced by young people outside of the home. As young people get older their experiences of abuse are often associated with public environments in which they spend their time. Yet child protection procedures routinely intervene with individual young people and their families rather than the public environments where abuse occurs.
– Issues like child sexual exploitation, harmful sexual behaviour, youth violence, domestic violence and going missing often intersect, affecting the same young people, in the same environments, within a given area. Yet practice and policy responses have developed in a siloed fashion and struggle to accommodate such overlaps.
Through the Contextual Safeguarding Network practitioners will learn from each other to develop practices that intervene within all of the environments associated with young people’s risk of harm and engage with young people’s experiences of multiple forms of abuse.