The Sheldon Report, an investigation into child sexual abuse commissioned by the Football Association, has revealed yet more ‘historic’ child safeguarding failures. But are these historic? Or are the same failings still happening today? Does everybody who has concerns always raise them? Or in another twenty years time will we be listening to excuses from people who have concerns about what’s happening RIGHT NOW but are failing to raise them?
Are we learning our lessons and listening to children? Are we listening to those nagging doubts? Or do we continue to vilify those who raise concerns?
Do we as adults accept our responsibility to safeguard all children? Do we really understand the mantra ‘You never know anyone well enough to say they couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t’? Or do we continue to ignore our instincts, and excuse friends, family, colleagues, pillars of the community, to the detriment of children?
Do we fulfil our duty to Speak Out, or do we continue to allow ourselves to be silenced with spurious accusations such as ‘racist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘pearl-clutcher’, ‘man-hater’, ‘paranoid’, ‘transphobe’, ‘trouble maker’, ‘prude’, and ‘bigot’?
Not everyone should be ‘included’
Most recently we have seen ‘inclusion’ and ‘all opinions are valid’ used to undermine the effective safeguarding of children. No, not everybody should be included in schools: excluding people who pose a danger to children is the very essence of safeguarding and safer recruitment procedures. Nobody has a ‘right’ to work with children, however children absolutely have a right to be kept safe from those who would do them harm.
Everywhere should be operating a culture of vigilance in order to keep children safe. This includes being vigilant to those who attempt to groom you into undermining long established safeguarding practices under the guise of ‘inclusion’. Unless we really wake up and actually learn our lessons this time, there will be another Sheldon Report in another twenty years time, and another and another.
Safeguarding is the responsibility of all adults and we all must do our duty. If you have a concern about a child or a policy or an adults actions – report it. Don’t think ‘What if I’m wrong?’, think ‘What if I’m right?’. Report your concerns: report them to the safeguarding officer at your school, report them to the local safeguarding board, report unsafe practice to Ofsted, if your concerns are not listened to, whistleblow.
You can report concerns (including anonymous whistleblowing) online to Department for Education here: https://form.education.gov.uk/…/Contact_the_Department…
It is the responsibility of every single adult to safeguard children, we cannot stress this enough. Safer recruitment MUST be used. We know that predators will target anywhere that children are: history, experience, previous serious case reviews and public inquiries should all have taught us this before the Sheldon Report was published. We must be alert to this and we must keep those with nefarious intentions away from children.
The motivations of those wishing to work with children must always be explored. Only those who are found to be suitable should be granted access to children and other vulnerable groups. Unsuitable people applying to work with children is not sadly not rare. It is an everyday occurrence and this must be acknowledged and stopped.
Enough is enough
On a daily basis we see examples of people who really should understand safeguarding failing to do so. This includes school leadership, headteachers, alleged safeguarding organisations, teaching unions and teaching publications. It includes‘feminist’ and women’s organisations purporting to be against VAWG (violence against women and girls). It includes government departments, children’s charities, PSHE providers, social workers and many other professionals who are failing to do their jobs.
#EnoughIsEnough, safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Everybody must speak up every time they have a concern, every time they notice something is wrong. We all have a responsibility to enable a culture where people feel empowered to do the right thing. Concerns must be heard, not silenced.