What Is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding is sometimes perceived as being an alternative word to describe child protection. However, they are not the same, and to think they are, can leave people and organisations vulnerable. One aims to keep you free from the cliff edge, to begin with. Despite its best intentions, the other pretty much remains the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.


If an organisation was to only focus on 'Safeguarding' they would by default encompass 'Child Protection'. However, the same does not necessarily apply the other way around. To be a child-safe organisation, with a safeguarding culture that safeguards everyone, you must reflect safeguarding and child protection.  To purely focus on child protection could leave other children and your organisation vulnerable.

Mountain Path


  • Is holistic (includes all people – all children, staff and environments) and is a continuum.

  • It is mostly proactive in seeking to prevent any risks from occurring.

  • Any risks that do occur are mostly low level and/or kept to a low level.

  • It covers all thresholds of need. Safeguarding includes child protection.

  • Is a shared workforce responsibility.

  • Families may receive support from the organisation and possibly community services.

  • Involves working with children and their whānau (not ‘doing to’).


Child Protection

  • Only applies to those children at risk of abuse/neglect. 

  • It does not apply to ALL children.

  • Tends to be reactive, as mostly risks have already occurred.

  • Risks are high (can be life-threatening), and children are at their most vulnerable.

  • Managing the risk environment is outside of the organisation’s control.

  • Mostly requires the organisation’s safeguarding staff to respond to concerns.

  • Requires referrals to and support from specialist child protection services.

  • May require working without whānau consent.