Violence Against Women and Girls is a safeguarding issue
Violence Against Women and Girls work needs to be seen and understood as a child protection issue. There may be different resources available, different professionals involved and different legal definitions but, if we combine our understanding of child abuse with Violence Against Women and Girls – to understand why it happens, who is doing it, what it is and what effects it has – then we can see that there are many similarities, not least of which is that there is a shared cause, i.e. an abuse of male power.
In AVA’s experience of working to educate young people about abuse, we have found that many education professionals are unsure about how to respond to disclosures of abuse. They do not seem to see it as a safeguarding issue like any other they may encounter. Additionally, forms of VAWG are often not mentioned in child protection policy and procedures. We have also found that many education professions want to know more about Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and understand how important it is to stop it.
Violence Against Women and Girls can have a devastating impacts on the lives of children and young people, staff and parents/carers. Children and young people need to be protected, as they would be from bullying, neglect and other forms of abuse. Adults need to be supported and sign posted to relevant services.
It is vital to protect and educate all children, not just those who we know have been abused, so that educating children and young people is seen as an essential component of a child protection strategy.
Education settings have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002. Education staff who identify children and young people experiencing or witnessing any form of Violence Against Women and Girls need to refer them on to the organisation’s child protection lead and then on to other statutory services to ensure they are safe and properly protected from harm. There will need to be a co-ordinated response from children’s social care services, police, youth offending teams and health services. Criminal justice agencies and children’s services should work together to ensure the best outcomes for young people.
“Safeguarding children – the action we take to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm – is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play”.
It can feel like a heavy responsibility to deal with people telling you about their experiences of violence but you have the ability to transform a person’s life. This may be through the small and very important step of showing that person that you believe them if they disclose to you. Through listening you can help them to recognise that what they have experienced is violence. Through telling them about support services you can help them to access the right support. Remember to try not to take on solving all their issues but take one step at a time.
Education organisations have a responsibility to safeguard children and young people, staff and parents/carers. This section includes:
Information and guidance on safeguarding children and young people, including flow charts for referrals.
Information and guidance on safeguarding staff.
Information and guidance on safeguarding parents/carers.